Photo/IllutrationDeputy Prime Minister Taro Aso gives a speech in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Oct. 26. (Daizo Teramoto)

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said the ruling party’s victory in the Lower House election was “thanks to North Korea,” a comment that drew outrage from opposition parties.

During an Oct. 26 gathering in Tokyo for Liberal Democratic Party members, Aso, who is also finance minister, talked about how the ruling coalition retained a two-thirds majority in the Oct. 22 Lower House election.

“Obviously, (the victory) was partly thanks to North Korea and the various people who have various opinions,” Aso said. “When I gave speeches (to support LDP candidates), especially in areas on the side of the Sea of Japan, I really had that feeling.”

Opposition lawmakers, who criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for dissolving the Lower House for the snap election amid rising tensions with North Korea, blasted Aso’s statement as making light of the situation.

Akira Nagatsuma, acting leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters on Oct. 27 that Aso’s remarks were “outrageous” and that the party will take up the issue in the Diet.

Aso, who is well known for his gaffes, did not back off his comment on Oct. 27.

“It is the government that deals with national security issues, such as North Korea’s repeated missile launches and nuclear tests,” he said at a morning news conference. “The people considered what type of government would be appropriate and then they chose (candidates). This element largely influenced (the results).”