October 28, 2017 11:09 pm JST

North Korea accuses Abe of playing up nuclear threat to win election

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- North Korea on Saturday accused Japan's ruling party of playing up a nuclear threat posed by Pyongyang to achieve a huge win in last weekend's general election.

The North's Korea-Asia-Pacific Peace Committee also criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for planning to ask U.S. President Donald Trump to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang when he visits Tokyo early next month.

In a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency, the committee claimed that in campaigning ahead of the Oct. 22 election, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party "kicked up a hysteric anti-(Pyongyang) racket, noisily trumpeting about the story of nuclear threat from the north and solution to the abduction of Japanese."

The LDP won 284 of the 465 seats in the election, and together with its smaller coalition partner, Komeito, secured a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.

During the election campaign, Abe focused on Japan's heightened security concerns given North Korea's continued testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of U.N. resolutions forbidding such activity and crippling economic sanctions.

Earlier this week, Japan's Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso attributed the ruling party's electoral victory to North Korea's rising threat, a view he altered on Friday in the face of criticism from opposition lawmakers.

"Abe and his group should know that they are playing a dangerous gamble by putting the prospect of their island country and the destiny of their people at stake," the North Korean statement said.

In connection with Trump's visit to Japan from Nov. 5, it warned that "the whole Japanese islands can bury into the bottom of the sea if they go reckless by acting a stooge in the U.S. racket for escalating confrontation with the (North Korea) and in its war moves while chiming in with old lunatic Trump's crazy remarks."

During his three-day visit, besides holding talks with Abe, Trump is scheduled to meet with families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

North Korea has not conducted any major arms test since it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in mid-September.

But verbal threats from North Korea continue, and Japanese, South Korean and U.S. officials are preparing for a possible provocation during Trump's five-nation Asia trip, which will also include visits to Seoul and Beijing.

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