Abe Announces Japan Snap Election, Will Face New Challenger

Monday, September 25, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge.com
Sep 25, 2017

As if the just concluded German elections, and the upcoming referendums in Catalonia and Iraqi Kurdistan were not enough, here comes Japan.

Shortly following Sunday night reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to launch a new economic stimulus package of around 2 trillion yen ($17.8 billion) by the end of this year, which sent the Yen sliding to session lows and the USDJPY rising as high as 112.50 before fading the entire move, on Monday the Japanese premier confirmed recent rumors when he said he would dissolve parliament’s lower house on Thursday for a snap election, as he seeks a fresh mandate to overcome “a national crisis”. Abe, in power for five years with the success of his famous Abenomics always just beyond reach, said he needed a mandate to shift some revenues from a planned future tax hike to social spending such as education, besides seeking support for a tough stance toward North Korea’s repeated missile and nuclear tests.

“I will dissolve the lower house on Sept. 28,” Abe told a nationally televised news conference on Monday according to Reuters. Earlier, the head of Abe’s junior coalition partner, Natsuo Yamaguchi, said he understood the election would be held on Oct. 22.

The decision is aimed to take advantage of Abe’s recently surge in favorable ratings following a crash in support for Abe as early as two months ago as a result of ongoing corruption scandals in his party, as well as ongoing opposition disarray. The main opposition Democratic Party is struggling with single-digit ratings and much depends on whether it can cooperate with liberal opposition groups.

Abe’s image as a strong leader has bolstered his ratings amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear arms and missile programs and overshadowed opposition criticism of the premier for suspected cronyism scandals that had eroded his support.

As the FT notes, “the general election will decide whether Japan continues with its stimulative economic policies and whether Mr Abe has the political strength to drive through a revision to Japan’s war-renouncing constitution.”

Abe, whose ratings have risen to around 50% from around 30% in July, is gambling his ruling bloc can keep its lower house majority even if it loses the two-thirds “super majority” needed to achieve his long-held goal of revising the post-war pacifist constitution to clarify the military’s role. According to Reuters, A weekend survey by the Nikkei business daily survey showed 44% of voters planned to vote for Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) versus just 8% for the main opposition Democratic Party and another 8% for a new party launched by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

The Rest…HERE

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