Published: Tue, September 26, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Japan's Abe will reportedly announce snap elections for next month

Japan's Abe will reportedly announce snap elections for next month

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this morning announced he plans to dissolve parliament's lower house on Thursday for a snap election, as he seeks a fresh mandate to overcome "a national crisis". If he is re-elected as party leader next year, he could end up serving till 2021, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Japan's political history.

The election is due to be held October 22. A majority said it was inappropriate for Abe to dissolve the lower house this month, more than a year before his government's term is set to expire.

With the main opposition Democratic Party in disarray after an exodus of members, Mr Abe's toughest challenger might be Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, 65, who has expressed prime ministerial ambitions.

Abe has served a total of nearly six years as prime minister: he had a truncated term a decade ago, coming back to power in a landslide in 2012.

Abe is expected to announce the election at 6 p.m. briefing in Tokyo.

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According to a survey conducted over the weekend by Kyodo News, 64.3 percent of the respondents said they do not support the prime minister's plan to call a snap election, while 23.7 percent expressed support.

Abe on Monday asked his cabinet to compile a 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) economic package by year-end to focus on child care, education and encouraging corporate investment.

Despite a recent run of growth, the election victor will also have to contend with a sluggish economy, as the heavily indebted country grapples with a low birth rate and a shrinking labour force.

"Now is the time to apply pressure", Abe told a gathering of investors at the New York Stock Exchange, remarks he later reiterated in an address to the annual United Nations General Assembly. A Nikkei newspaper survey published Monday showed that 44 percent of respondents said they would vote for Abe's party in the election, followed by just 8 percent for two opposition parties.

The LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito control 323 seats, or more than two-thirds, in the Lower House. Reforms enacted previous year will reduce the number of lower house seats to 465 from 475.

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