Japan PM Abe orders breakup of parliament, snap election next month

26 September, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Jeannette Greene
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo Monday Sept. 25 2017. Prime Minister Abe announced Monday he will call a snap election for parliament's more powerful lower house

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday announced snap polls in the country next month.

Mr Abe officially announced his intention to dissolve the lower house at the beginning of the extraordinary Diet session starting September 28. The prime minister did not give a date for the vote but it is widely expected to be October 22.

At the press conference, the prime minster also raised the issue of North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

Opposition parties have criticised the vote as a way for Abe's to avoid recent scandals, including allegations of cronyism, which representatives promised to address on Thursday.

"Achieving a primary budget balancing by fiscal 2020 has become impossible", Abe told public broadcaster NHK after announcing a snap election for next month and vowing to divert money from a promised sales-tax hike, meant to repay government debt, to programs like education. She used a similar good-governance message to crush Abe's party in a local Tokyo election in July.

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.

While the opposition in Japan now seems divided and weak, Abe's critics say he runs the risk of alienating voters by playing politics at time when the country faces a serious security threat.

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

After a series of scandals hit his popularity, Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have more recently seen a rise in polling numbers amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

While the Democratic Party is splintering, Abe faces a challenge from a new party set up by an associate of popular Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who has a history of local election victories over the premier's party. The prime minister is chosen by both houses of the Diet. Meanwhile, it was "supported around ¥112" by firm stock prices, said an official at a foreign exchange brokerage house.


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