The lower house of Japan’s Parliament has been dissolved by the nation’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in preparation for the upcoming snap election.
The election will be held on October 22nd.
Shinzo Abe was born into a prominent family and both his father and grandfather were politicians. He served as a Member of the Parliament in Japan from 1993 to 2006. On 26th September 2006, he was elected as Prime Minister. At 52, he was then the youngest PM in Japan’s history since Fumimaro Konoe in 1941. Abe did not complete his first time as he resigned in 2007. He said that he had done so due to medical reasons, however his cabinet at the time was mired in scandal and two other ministers also stepped down. In 2012, he was sworn in as Prime Minister for a second term.
In 2017, he and his party have been bogged down by multiple scandals. In one of the controversies, Abe stands accused of intervening on behalf of his friend Kotaro Kake, to gain approval to open a veterinary school in western Japan. The other scandal involves a kindergarten school. Moritomo Gakuen group had supposedly purchased land to build the school at just one-seventh of the appraised value. Yasunori Kagoike, president of the Moritomo Gakuen group testified that had handed an envelope containing 1m yen (£7,100) and had said it was from Abe.
The President has denied all the allegations of corruption and has maintained his innocence. However, his approval ratings went on a freefall as a result of it. At one point he was polling below 30%.
In the recent weeks, Abe’s approval ratings along with the approval ratings of his cabinet have gone up. The mood in the country shifted due to the tensions in the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has fired two missiles over the country and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, has also threatened Japan. Therefore, this has led to a change in the public’s perception of Abe.
Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party has seen deflections in the recent weeks. However, in order to pose a comprehensive opposition to Abe, it has announced its “full support” to Yuriko Koike’s new political party. Koike is the popular governor of Tokyo who has emerged as the main challenger for Abe. Koike’s new party is called "Party of Hope." The general elections in Japan were originally slated for 2018.
The speaker of the house, Tadamori Oshima, read the statement of dissolution.
Our assessment is that this is a risky gamble taken by the Japanese Prime Minister. According to a recent poll, the approval rating for Abe’s cabinet is just above 50%. However, Koike has energized some voters. She was Tokyo’s first female Governor and well liked.