Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of Japan’s parliament Friday, forcing a snap election in an apparent bid to shore up support for his scandal-plagued government so that he can pursue his policy goals. His ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which has been in power for most of the post-World War II era, may lose some seats but is likely to retain a solid majority with its coalition partner in the 480-seat lower house. The election, expected on Dec. 14, follows Abe’s decision to postpone a planned sales tax increase after figures released Monday showed the economy slipped into recession. He is portraying the election as a referendum on his economic revitalization policies, known as Abenomics, and the postponement of the tax hike ? from the current 8 percent to 10 percent ? that had been set for next October. “The battle is now starting,” he said. “We’ll make an all-out fight in this battle so that we all can come back here to resume our responsibility to make Japan a country that shines in the center of the world.”
The snap poll has puzzled many voters as Abe has been prime minister for only about two years and halfway into his four-year term in the lower house. Calling an election right after the release of negative economic data is also not usually considered wise. Media polls this week showed the majority of voters opposed to dissolving the lower house.
But Abe may see it as a chance to win a fresh mandate for his rule, which began December 2012, and to clean house after recent scandals involving Cabinet members dragged down his approval ratings, experts said. Two ministers have resigned and others have come under attack for alleged campaign finance and election law violations.
“It was certainly to prolong his life as prime minister,” said Mieko Nakabayashi, a former lawmaker who teaches at Waseda University in Tokyo.
Full Article: Japan’s Lower House Dissolved for Snap Election – ABC News.