Tokyo Governor Koike to Lead New National Political Party (News)

Jerome Frank
September 27, 2017

The prime minister Monday dissolved the lower house of the Japanese parliament known as the Diet, and called what is known as a snap election for October 22, more than a year before the next election is scheduled to take place.

Tokyo's governor is launching a new political party to challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party in national elections that are expected next month.

Fukuda, a House of Representatives lawmaker, is the first LDP member that has announced an intention to take part in the new party, which will be launched by lower house lawmaker Masaru Wakasa.

However, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has no formidable competition from the opposition party in Japan unlike the Conservative Party which had a strong rival in Labour Party in the UK.

For Abe, the snap elections may look like an opportunity amid crisis.

He said he felt a need to gauge public opinion over major changes in how additional revenues would be used after the consumption tax rate is increased.

"North Korea has played a decisive role in helping boost Abe's support amongst anxious voters and it's putting wind into his sails for his security agenda", said Professor Jeff Kingston, the director of Asia studies at Temple University.

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Some critics say Mr Abe has risked creating a political vacuum at a time of rising geopolitical tension over North Korea. Abe is expected to hold a press conference at 6 pm in Tokyo to announce the snap general election, according to Bloomberg reports.

Abe's conservative LDP party is seen as clear victor of a national vote, with a recent survey showing 44 percent would vote for the current prime minister compared to eight percent for the main opposition Democratic Party. They stated that North Korea's nuclear tests pose a direct challenge to the worldwide community, and expressed their strong support for Japan's position, including the complete implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Abe said he aims to win at least 233 seats, or a majority, in the 475-seat lower house and stay in power.

Support ratings for Abe's government have begun to rebound as attacks on its cronyism scandals have faded during parliament's recess, while opposition parties are regrouping.

Each time the government has started to make progress, Mr Abe has called an election.

The ruling coalition now controls 68 per cent of seats in the 475-member lower house, including 288 for the LDP and 35 for its coalition partner Komeito, according to the parliamentary website.

Kyodo reported that its survey conducted over the weekend showed 27 percent of respondents saying they would vote for Abe's LDP, compared with 8 percent for the Democratic Party.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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