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September 25, 2017

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Japan won't compromise on islands: new PM

TOKYO -- Japan's premier-in-waiting Shinzo Abe came out fighting Monday after his sweeping election victory, saying there can be no compromise on the sovereignty of islands at the center of a dispute with China.

China reacted with alarm to Abe's victory, after his conservative Liberal Democratic Party crushed opponents in national polls and he immediately restated Tokyo's claims.

"The Senkaku islands are Japan's inherent territory," Abe told a press conference, referring to an archipelago Beijing calls the Diaoyus.

"Japan owns and controls the islands ... under international law. There is no room for negotiation on this point."

Beijing declared itself ready to work with Japan on "further development of stable relations" but expressed disquiet at where Abe would lead Japan.

"We are highly concerned about which direction Japan will take," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.

"The current task is now to properly handle the current issue" of the territorial dispute, she added.

Abe is expected to be elected as premier by fellow lawmakers when parliament meets for a special session on Dec. 26.

The one-time premier has vowed to put the moribund economy back on track after years of deflation, made worse by a soaring currency that has squeezed exporters.

Topping his agenda was a promise to pressure the Bank of Japan into more aggressive easing policies aimed at kick-starting growth as the world's third-largest economy slips into recession. All eyes will be on the bank's policy meeting this week to see whether central bankers move in line with Abe's wishes.

Stock prices soared Monday to their highest level since April, reflecting hopes in the business world that the LDP will be more effective in its economic policies than the outgoing Democrats were. The yen tumbled against the U.S. dollar and euro on Monday, while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock index surged 0.94 percent by the close.

LDP, Ally Win More Than 2/3

The LDP won 294 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament in Sunday's nationwide elections, the party said. The rout was completed by news that the LDP and its junior coalition party New Komeito secured a large enough majority in the lower house to overrule the upper chamber.

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