Japanese prime minister calls October snap election

Japanese prime minister calls October snap election
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has announced he will dissolve the lower house of parliament and call a snap election for next month.

Mr Abe said at a news conference that he will dissolve the more powerful house in Japan's two-chamber parliament on Thursday when it convenes after a three-month summer recess.

The election is due to be held October 22.

Support ratings for Mr Abe's government have begun to rebound as attacks on its cronyism scandals have faded during parliament's recess, while opposition parties are regrouping.

Opposition MPs said there is no need to hold elections now.

Mr Abe said: "I expect opposition criticism is going to focus on (the scandals), and it's going to be a very difficult election."

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

However, a big enough victory could help Mr Abe extend his hold on power. His three-year term as party leader ends next September, and he will have to fend off any challengers from within the LDP to remain prime minister.

Yu Uchiyama, a University of Tokyo politics professor, said: "For Mr Abe, now is the time. He is taking advantage of unprepared opposition parties as he seeks to prolong his leadership."

Support ratings for Mr Abe's government plunged to below 30% in July following repeated parliamentary questions about allegations that the PM helped his friend obtain approval for a veterinary college.

Recent media polls show the support ratings recovering to around 50%, helped by parliament's recess and a cabinet reshuffle in August which removed the defence minister and several other unpopular ministers.

This marks a significant turnaround from June, when the Liberal Democratic Party suffered a devastating loss in a Tokyo city assembly election to maverick Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike's new regional party.

Opposition MPs are scrambling to regroup.

Earlier on Monday, Ms Koike announced the launch of a new national party she will head, though she will remain as governor to focus on hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and other issues.

She said her Hope Party will be conservative and push for transparency in government, women's advancement, the elimination of nuclear energy and other reforms.

Several parliamentarians, including defectors from the main opposition Democratic Party, have announced their intention to join her party.

Ms Koike said: "This is going to be a new force formed by members aiming to achieve reforms and conservativism.

"We are going to create a Japan where there is hope for everyone that tomorrow will certainly be better than today."

The Democrats, who held power in 2009-2012, have lost ground largely due to internal disagreements.


More on this topic

Japan's new leader vows economic shiftJapan's new leader vows economic shift

New Japanese PM elected

New Japan leader to form CabinetNew Japan leader to form Cabinet

Landslide win for Japan oppositionLandslide win for Japan opposition

More in this Section

Medics to get day-in-the-life experience of bowel disease patientsMedics to get day-in-the-life experience of bowel disease patients

‘Wearable glucose monitors may benefit people with diabetes and memory problems’‘Wearable glucose monitors may benefit people with diabetes and memory problems’

Lawsuits by Michael Jackson accusers likely to be restoredLawsuits by Michael Jackson accusers likely to be restored

100 protesters surrounded by police at Hong Kong university100 protesters surrounded by police at Hong Kong university


The ribbed fabric is having a fashion moment, says Katie Wright.Get on board with cord: 5 of the best pinafore dresses and how to style them

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a woman whose future mother-in-law isn’t happy with her decision not to have kids.Ask a counsellor: ‘Why can’t my fiancé’s mother accept that I don’t want children?’

Vincent Thurkettle, author of The Wood Fire Handbook, talks to Luke Rix-Standing about one of our best-loved simple pleasures – the log fire.Burning love: Why are roaring wood fires so endlessly appealing?

Students have nothing to be anxious about with their CAO 2020, just follow this easy video guide with Trish McGrath, Principal of Hewitt CollegeTen tips to completing CAO 2020 applications online, plus a short video guide for students

More From The Irish Examiner