Japan's Abe announces snap election amid worries over North Korea

Japan PM Shinzo Abe says time for North Korea dialogue is over

Japan PM Shinzo Abe says time for North Korea dialogue is over

Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has called a snap national election and will dissolve the country's parliament later this week as he seeks support for a new government push to revive the country's moribund economy.

Abe will dissolve the House of Representatives on September 28.

Earlier, the head of Mr Abe's junior coalition partner, Natsuo Yamaguchi, said he understood the election would be held on 22 October.

Mr Abe's image as a strong leader has bolstered his ratings amid rising tension over North Korea's nuclear arms and missile programmes and overshadowed opposition criticism of the premier for suspected cronyism scandals that had eroded his support. Aside from a pledge to stay tough on North Korea, Abe's also expected to announce a 2 trillion yen ($US17.8 billion) spending package with a focus on education and childcare.

The prime minister said the snap election was called in an attempt "to deal with the biggest challenge facing Japan, which is the population aging and low birthrate".

Over the weekend, a junior LDP cabinet minister, Mineyuki Fukuda, said he too would leave the ruling party to stand for election with Koike's new group.

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It moved modestly above ¥112 later as traders were awaiting Abe's news conference as well as a speech by Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley later in the day.

A latest poll stated that Abe's LDP party received a total of 44 percent of support in comparison to 8 percent support for the main opposition Democratic Party and Koike's group.

The Democratic Party and other opposition parties have started advancing their preparation for the election, exploring the possibility of promoting electoral cooperation to counter the ruling bloc.

Koike announced on Monday that she would lead candidates across the country under the "Party of Hope".

Although Abe is expected to triumph in the vote, there are question marks over whether he will retain the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to reform the constitution to strengthen Japan's military, one of his stated priorities. It has set a comparatively low bar of securing a simple majority of at least 233 of the 465 seats at stake.

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