Japan's Prime Minister Calls Snap October Election, Pushes New Stimulus Package

Posted September 26, 2017

JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to announce a snap election on Monday, capitalising on a surge of support for his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and an opposition party in disarray.

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

While speaking at a press conference on Monday, Abe said that he is aiming to get support from the people for his hard line against North Korea's nuclear programmes also.

Shortly before Abe told LDP members of his dissolution plan, Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike said she is establishing a new national-level political party called the "Kibo" (Hope) party. Also, opposition parties are regrouping and unprepared for an election.

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Abe will dissolve the House of Representatives on September 28.

Koike, a former newscaster and environment minister who became the capital's first-ever female governor, said her main policies included empowering women, improving transparency in government and cutting the number of lawmakers and their pay.

But Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan, said there was "no opposition worthy of the name in Japan".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signs a guest book on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

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The election is likely to be scheduled for next month.

Abe said he was seeking a fresh mandate to overcome "a national crisis" amid rising threats from North Korea.

Abe on Monday asked his cabinet to compile a 2 trillion yen ($17.80 billion) economic package by the year-end to focus on child care, education and encouraging corporate investment, while maintaining fiscal discipline. The prime minister is chosen by both houses of the Diet.

Rebalancing the spending would offset the potential negative effect on consumption from the tax rise, he said. Reforms enacted past year will reduce the number of lower house seats to 465 from 475.

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Nor were most respondents happy with being asked to choose a new government, with only 23.7% supporting Abe's decision to call an election.