Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced early election in what appears to be attempt to capitalize on higher opinion polls and secure a stronger mandate as the country prepares to respond to increasing threats from North Korea. In a national address Monday, Abe said he’ll dissolve parliament’s lower house on Thursday to “seek the mandate of the people immediately.” Mr Abe said he was seeking a fresh mandate to overcome “a national crisis” amid rising threats from North Korea.
His decision comes amid rebounding approval ratings after a record low over the summer and with the opposition largely in disarray. Mr Abe did not set a date for the vote but Japanese media suggest it will be on 22 October.
Mr Abe’s support has surged as rising tensions with North Korea have overshadowed criticism of alleged cronyism. The move comes one year before scheduled elections and amid a stronger showing in opinion polls for Abe who’s seen gains for his response so far to North Korea. We must not give into the threat of North Korea. I hope to gain the confidence of the people in the upcoming election and push forward strong diplomacy,” he said Monday.