Japan’s Abe to Call Election for Oct. 22 as Support RisesBy
Voter approval rising amid tensions over North Korea
Early election cuts short new opposition party’s preparations
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will call a general election for Oct. 22, according to three people with knowledge of his ruling coalition’s plans, seeking to take advantage of a recovery in support and nip in the bud a challenge from a new opposition party.
Heightened tensions with North Korea have helped restore voter approval damaged by a series of scandals, and may help Abe retain his coalition’s two-thirds majority in the lower house. His ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s campaign will focus on a pledge to increase education spending by putting off a target for reining in the budget deficit, as well as a more divisive plan to revise the pacifist constitution, according to domestic media reports.
While the main parliamentary opposition Democratic Party is splintering, Abe faces a wild card challenge from a new national party being set up by an associate of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. The capital’s leader defected from the LDP, then thrashed it in a July election for the metropolitan assembly.
Abe has served a total of almost six years as prime minister: he had a truncated term a decade ago, coming back to power in a landslide in 2012. He could serve until 2021 if re-elected as party leader next year, making him the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history.
— With assistance by Isabel Reynolds