Many see Pyongyang's recent friendly gestures as a tactical move. The US moved Tuesday to freeze the assets of two North Korean entities, while South Korea accused the North of unleashing a deadly flash flood.
Exit polls on Sunday gave the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) more than 300 seats in Japan's 480-seat Diet (parliament), ending more than 54 years of nearly unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party.
Bank loans and state-led investment have reenergized the economy, and people feel more secure about their jobs. But the government has boosted spending so fast that economists are warning of stock and real-estate bubbles.