Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe calls snap election

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe calls snap election

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe calls snap election

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet on Friday endorsed the government's plan to convene an extraordinary Diet session next Thursday, at which the premier is expected to dissolve the lower house for a snap election.

Following her unexpected election earlier this year as Tokyo Governor - considered the second-most important political position in the country after the Prime Minister - Koike has increasingly been seen as a challenger to Abe at the national level.

"I want the Japanese people to believe that there is hope for tomorrow", she said at a televised press conference.

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

The prime minister had been expected to face a grilling over the cronyism scandals during a session of parliament from Thursday and opposition party officials saw the move as a ploy to avoid hard questions.

"The threat of North Korea can not deter our democracy", Mr Abe said.

At the beginning, Prime Minister Abe expressed his intention to discuss pressing challenges facing both the Asian and African regions.

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He pledged to use some of the proceeds of a planned hike in sales tax to fund education and childcare, rather than drawing down Japan's massive debt, resulting in an effective stimulus package of around two trillion yen ($18 billion).

The Democratic Party and other opposition parties have started advancing their preparation for the election, exploring the possibility of promoting electoral cooperation to counter the ruling bloc.

As Mr Abe addressed reporters, more than 100 protesters gathered outside the Prime Minister's Office to demand his resignation.

Opposition lawmakers had said there was no need for new elections.

His ratings have risen to around 50 percent from around 30 percent in July.

A latest poll stated that Abe's LDP party received a total of 44 percent of support in comparison to 8 percent support for the main opposition Democratic Party and Koike's group. Reforms enacted previous year will cut the number of lower house seats to 465 from 475.

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