Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday called a snap election, seeking a fresh term at the helm of the world’s third-largest economy as tensions with nearby North Korea reach fever-pitch.
Mr Abe hopes to capitalise on a weak afnd fractured Opposition to sweep back into power, as polls show him regaining ground after a series of scandals, including allegations he improperly favoured a friend in a business deal.
“I will dissolve the House of Representatives on the 28th” of September, Mr Abe told reporters, a precursor to a general election. The Prime Minister did not give a date for the vote but it is widely expected to be October 22.
Surveys suggest voters approve of nationalist Abe’s hardline stance on North Korea, which fired two missiles over the country in the space of a month and has threatened to “sink” Japan.
“The election, which is the core of democracy, should not be influenced by the threats of North Korea,” stressed Mr Abe, 63.
“Rather, by holding an election, I want to seek a public mandate regarding (the government’s) handling of the North Korean issues,” he added.
According to a weekend poll in business daily Nikkei, 44 per cent of Japanese plan to vote for Mr Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), while only eight per cent favoured the main Opposition Democratic Party.
If re-elected, it would be Mr Abe’s fourth term.