Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved parliament's lower house on Thursday for a snap election, seeking a mandate to stick to his tough stance towards a volatile North Korea and rebalance the social security system. Pascale Davies reports.
Japan's parliament now formally dissolved. After Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a snap election for October 22nd, a year earlier than planned. Abe is taking advantage of bolstered approval ratings - partly on the back of his handling of the situation with North Korea. A step in the right direction for his leadership - after damaging allegations of cronyism earlier in the year. The Prime Minister is gambling that his ruling Liberal Democratic Party can maintain a simple majority in the lower house - in a bid to achieve his long held goal of revising Japan's post-war pacifist constitution. But in calling the snap election, Abe has given rise to a new challenge. Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike formally launched a new conservative party called Hope on Wednesday (September 27) and according to one Japanese newspaper showed 18% of voters plan to support it, compared to around 30% for Abe's LDP. Koike and opposition lawmakers have criticized the prime minster for risking a political vacuum by calling the snap poll at a time of rising regional tensions with North Korea.