Japanese PM dissolves parliament lower house for snap election

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved parliament’s lower house on Friday for a snap election expected on Dec. 14, seeking a fresh mandate for his struggling “Abenomics” revival strategy just two years after he returned to power promising that “Japan is Back”. Abe had vowed to revive the economy with a mix of hyper-easy monetary policy, government spending and reforms, while moving ahead with plans to rein in Japan’s massive public debt. But doubts have grown about his strategy, especially after data showed this week that the economy had surprisingly slipped into recession in the third quarter after an initial rise in the sales tax to 8 per cent from April.

I’m fully aware that it’s going to be a tough election. Through the election campaign, I want to clarify if the growth strategy we are pushing is right or wrong.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe

Faced with a weak and divided opposition, the LDP and its junior partner, the Komeito party, are not expected to lose their majority in the lower house, where they held two-thirds of the 480 seats. There will be 475 seats up for grabs this time after reforms to rebalance between sparsely populated rural districts and dense urban areas. According to opinion polls conducted by the Asahi Shimbun Wednesday and Thursday, however, the Abe cabinet’s approval rate fell to 39 percent from 42 percent earlier this month, while his disapproval rate rose to 40 percent from 36 percent, making it higher than his approval rate for the first time since he took office in December 2012.