Japan's PM announces snap election amid NK crisis

Alicia Cross
September 26, 2017

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at a press conference on Monday that he will dissolve the House of Representatives when it convenes Thursday to pave way for a general election.

The survey comes a day before Abe is expected to announce the elections for the lower house which is going to cover proportional representation districts.

The snap election, which the opposition slammed as "opportunistic", has been couched by Mr Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as necessary to preempt a "national crisis", and as a mandate for his strategy to raise pressure on the belligerent North.

However, a further 42.2% of voters surveyed said they were undecided - which adds a degree of uncertainty to the outcome, with one analyst not ruling out a "nasty surprise" for Abe's ruling party.

Tokyo's governor, whose city grouping won a municipal assembly landslide in July, said her new party would be conservative and would push for transparency in government, women's advancement and elimination of nuclear energy.

"We need to let North Korea realise that if they keep taking this path, they will have no bright future", Mr Abe said earlier this month.

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"North Korea's nuclear weapons either already are, or are on the verge of becoming, hydrogen bombs", he argued. "Because of the situation that we now face, I want to hold an election in order to ask the public to make a decision on how the North Korean issue should be dealt with".

"Can we continue letting (the existing lawmakers) handle politics?" "It would take a major scandal to derail the Abe express", he said.

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

"This is my responsibility as leader and my mission as prime minister". The increase in Abe's ratings may help him retain his coalition's two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament.

Abe will also tell his cabinet to compile a JPY2 trillion (US$17.8 billion) economic package by year-end, composed mostly of spending on child care and education, to cover the three years from April 2018 until sales tax revenue kicks in, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Monday.

This "may seem normal in Japan but from overseas, it is hard to understand", Yora told AFP. He was the country's youngest prime minister when he first won the top job aged 52.

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