Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would dissolve parliament’s lower house on Thursday for a snap election, as he seeks a fresh mandate to overcome “a national crisis”.
Abe, in power for five years, said he needed a mandate to shift some revenues from a planned future tax hike to social spending such as education, besides seeking support for a tough stance toward North Korea’s repeated missile and nuclear tests.
“I will dissolve the lower house on Sept. 28,” Abe told a nationally televised news conference on Monday.
Earlier, the head of Abe’s junior coalition partner, Natsuo Yamaguchi, said he understood the election would be held on Oct. 22.
The decision is largely seen as aimed at taking advantage of Abe’s recently improved support ratings and opposition disarray.
Abe, whose ratings have risen to around 50 percent from around 30 percent in July, is gambling his ruling bloc can keep its lower house majority even if it loses the two-thirds “super majority” needed to achieve his long-held goal of revising the post-war pacifist constitution to clarify the military’s role.
A weekend survey by the Nikkei business daily survey showed 44 percent of voters planned to vote for Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) versus 8 percent for the main opposition Democratic Party and another 8 percent for a new party launched by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.