Shinzo Abe dissolves parliament for election
22 Nov BBC
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dissolved parliament, paving
the way for a snap election.Mr Abe is seeking a new mandate for economic
reforms and is delaying an unpopular increase in sales tax.But opinion
polls conducted by local media indicate low support for the PM and that
many people do not understand why he has called an election two years
ahead of schedule.Japan will now head to the polls in mid-December.The
dissolution of parliament was announced in the lower house by Speaker
Bunmei Ibuki on Friday morning.
Japan's legislature, known as the National Diet, comprises the upper
House of Councillors and the lower House of Representatives.Mr Abe is
expected to hold a news conference later.On Thursday, he said he would
use the election campaign to clarify his government's growth strategy,
reported national broadcaster NHK.A Kyodo News agency survey on Friday
found that about 63% of people did not understand Mr Abe's reasons for
going to the polls early. A separate survey by the Asahi Shimbun
newspaper found that only 39% supported Mr Abe.
Though his popularity has fallen, Mr Abe and his Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) are still expected to win the election because of the
weakness of the opposition.Mr Abe has said he will resign if his
coalition which holds the majority in the lower house fails to win a
simple majority.Mr Abe launched an ambitious economic plan, informally
known as "Abenomics", two years ago when he became prime minister.Though
Japan's GDP growth initially saw a lift, the economy continued to slide
and Japan entered a technical recession this quarter.
It was exacerbated by a rise in sales tax in April, from 5% to 8%.The
increases were aimed at curbing Japan's public debt which is the highest
among developed nations, but instead scared Japanese consumers off
spending.A second increase, to 10%, was set for October 2015 but Mr Abe
has said that will be delayed by at least 18 months.