LDP's Fukuda to join Koike aide's planned party

Japan PM Shinzo Abe says time for North Korea dialogue is over

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called an election a year early and will dissolve parliament on Thursday.

Abe said he was seeking a mandate for his plans to use new tax revenues for education and elderly care, and for his defense policy toward North Korea's escalating missile and nuclear threat, saying the situation is tantamount to a national crisis.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday ordered his cabinet to compile new economic stimulus measures in a package worth around 2 trillion yen (13.13 billion pounds) by the end of the year.

"I will dissolve the lower house on September 28", Premier Abe declared at a press conference.

The head of Abe's junior coalition partner, Natsuo Yamaguchi, said he understood the election would be held on October 22.

It's believed the move is trying to take advantage of rebounding opinion polls for Mr Abe, while the opposition is in disarray, Reuters reports.

New Zealand's ruling Nationals win most votes, NZ First Party kingmaker
That will likely have implications for the New Zealand dollar, the world's 11th most-traded currency in 2016. Labour's Jacinda Ardern was vying to defeat Prime Minister Bill English in Saturday's NZ election.

Heightened tensions with North Korea have boosted his approval rating after a series of scandals, and may help Abe retain his coalition's two-thirds majority in the Lower House of parliament. Also, opposition parties are regrouping and unprepared for an election.

Analysts believe his ruling Liberal Democratic Party will retain a majority, but could lose the two-thirds majority it now holds with its coalition partner, the Komei party.

Abe has served as Japan's prime minister for almost six years.

The upcoming election was announced hours after Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, announced the formation of a new party that could give conservative voters an alternative to Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP).

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses the U.N. General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in NY on Wednesday. The total number of seats is set to be cut to 465 in the next election as part of a reform aimed at reducing the excessive weight given to rural votes under the current system.

The Nikkei poll was far more positive for Mr Abe's prospects than a Kyodo news agency survey that put his LDP on 27.7%, with 42.2% undecided.

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