SHINZO Abe has been re-elected as head of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party in a landslide result, paving the way for up to three more years as the nation’s leader and a push toward a constitutional revision.

Abe defeated his sole challenger, Shigeru Ishiba, a former defence minister with 553, or about 70%, of 807 votes.

The decisive victory may embolden Abe to pursue his long-sought amendment to Japan’s 1947 US-drafted pacifist constitution, although the hurdles remain high and doing so would carry political risks.

If a revision is rejected in a national referendum, Abe would likely have to step down.

“It’s time to tackle a constitutional revision,” Abe said in yesterday’s victory speech. “Let’s work together to make a new Japan.”

Abe, who has been prime minister since 2012, is poised to become Japan’s longest-serving leader in August 2021.

He has several challenges ahead, including dealing with an ageing population, a tax hike to 10% which he has delayed twice and China’s assertive action in the region.

Abe seeks to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to resolve their disputes, including the decades-old problem of Japanese citizens abducted to the North.

Abe will meet with President Donald Trump next week in New York to discuss “the roles Japan and America should play in establishing global trade rules”.