Published: Wed, September 27, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls snap election

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls snap election

Dissolving the lower house on the day it reconvenes has another advantage: It denies the opposition an opportunity to renew questioning him in public.

So weak is Japan's opposition that even in a year of nearly perpetual scandal for Abe and his administration-including questions and public anger over Abe's wife's ties to a school in Osaka that secured a favorable land deal-Japan's voters see no plausible alternative to Abe.

"By holding an election at this time, I want to ask the people's view on how we are dealing with North Korea".

"North Korea has played a decisive role in helping boost Abe's support amongst anxious voters and it's putting wind into his sails for his security agenda", said Professor Jeff Kingston, the director of Asia studies at Temple University.

Q: What are Abe's prospects of winning the election, and then extending his leadership next year? President Trump's recent threat to totally destroy North Korea if attacked, and the escalating war of words between the leaders of the US and North Korea, have heightened these concerns for many.

While the main parliamentary opposition Democratic Party is splintering, Abe faces a wild card challenge from a new national party being set up by an associate of Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

The House of Representatives would be dissolved on Thursday, he said.

A poll by the Kyodo news agency found that nearly two-thirds of Japanese voters are opposed to Abe holding a snap election, and that 42 percent of the electorate is undecided about whom to support.

Abe said he is seeking a mandate for the proposal, and for his defense policy toward North Korea's escalating missile and nuclear threat, saying the situation is tantamount to a national crisis.

Support ratings for Abe's government have begun to rebound as attacks on its cronyism scandals have faded during parliament's recess, while opposition parties are regrouping.

Abe said at a news conference Monday that part of the revenue from a planned 2019 consumption tax hike would be used for a hefty package for child education and elderly care.

Others view the election as a way of deflecting attention from a series of scandals that have rocked Abe in recent months, including allegations of favouritism to a friend in a business deal - which the prime minister strongly denies.

"Japan is facing a hard time considering the situation in North Korea".

A number of prominent LDP and Democratic Party members have said that they will switch to the new movement. Another 42.2 percent remain undecided.

Each time the government has started to make progress, Mr Abe has called an election.

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