Japanese Prime Minister Abe calls for early elections

Shinzo Abe and Trump

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

"Even if there is a contingency during the election, I am confident that we can respond properly", Koichi said on public broadcaster NHK. While highlighting his government's resolve to protect the people's lives and properties, he said, "North Korea's threats should never influence the election, which is the point of origin for democracy".

Mr Abe warned that global credibility was on the line, saying North Korea is on the threshold of mastering hydrogen bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles that would be able to strike the US.

Nearly two-thirds of Japanese voters are opposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling a snap election, a Kyodo news agency survey showed on Sunday, a day before the Japanese leader is expected to announce an October vote.

While the consensus is that the LDP/New Komeito coalition should retain its two-thirds majority, Yasunori Iwanaga, chief investment officer at Amundi Japan, warns that if Tokyo mayor Yuriko Koike's Kibo party gains significant votes in the election, Abe may have to reassess his plans.

According to the survey, 27 percent of the respondents plan to vote for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in proportional representation districts in the expected lower house election, versus 8 percent who favor the struggling main opposition Democratic Party.

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Abe's move has a striking similarity with the UK's PM Theresa May's decision to call for snap elections in April this year when her Conservative Party held a lead in polls over the Labour Party.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly shown a willingness to take calculated risks to advance his goals. The premier said he would make use of revenues from a planned increase in the nation's consumption tax in October 2019 to 10 percent from 8 percent now.

SEE ALSO: What would happen if a North Korean missile hit Japan?

Regarding the recent favoritism scandals that brought down his support ratings, Abe said he expects a "tough election" with harsh criticisms from opposition parties. But he does face some headwinds: nearly two-thirds of the public disapprove of the decision to fast-track the elections, and 42% polled said they are undecided about whom to support.

"Our ideal is to proceed free of special interests", Koike, a former LDP member, told a news conference on Monday, just hours before Abe's announcement.

The opposition may be justified in criticizing the prime minister for attempting to hide the scandals from more scrutiny before going to the polls. The latest poll numbers are on his side, too: Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) now enjoys 44% support over a frayed and divided opposition.



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