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Abe likely to hold snap election on Oct. 22

  • September 19, 2017
  • , All national papers
  • JMH Summary

All Monday and Tuesday morning papers reported that Prime Minister Abe has decided to dissolve the Lower House at the beginning of the extraordinary Diet session on Sept. 28 and probably hold a general election on Oct. 22 after 12 days of campaigning. Abe has already conveyed his decision to Komeito leader Yamaguchi and other senior ruling officials. Mainichi said the premier has decided that in light of the recent improvement in cabinet support, it would be wise to dissolve the chamber before any progress is made in election cooperation by the Democratic Party and other opposition parties or moves to form a new party by Tokyo Governor Koike’s associates. Asahi wrote that Abe also thinks it would be best to dissolve the house before opposition parties resume grilling him on the Moritomo and Kake Gakuen scandals at the parliament.

 

Nikkei wrote that Abe is placing priority on maintaining his grip on power, explaining that this is a good time to dissolve the Lower House because the DP has been weakened by a series of lawmaker defections. The paper added, however, that the premier will not be able to avoid criticism over the lack of a strong justification for holding an election at this time. Mainichi speculated that the premier will be criticized for creating a political vacuum amid North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and missile launches. Noting that President Trump is expected to visit Japan in early November, the paper quoted a senior GOJ official as saying that since the North Korea issue is becoming prolonged, the prime minister decided to dissolve the chamber at an early date to cement his government’s base.

 

Consumption tax, North Korea, constitutional revision to become major campaign issues

Today’s papers said Abe plans to run an election campaign on the platform of raising the consumption tax to ensure a stable social security system for “all generations,” continuing to put pressure on North Korea, and making the existence of the SDF explicit in the Constitution. According to the dailies, Abe is expected to ask the public to support his policy of using the tax revenue generated from raising the consumption tax from 8% to 10% in October 2019 to make secondary and higher education free for certain students. Asahi voiced doubts about the premier’s plan to focus on the consumption tax, speculating that he is desperate to deflect public criticism of his handling of the Moritomo and Kake Gakuen scandals.

 

As for constitutional amendment, Yomiuri explained that by winning the general election, Abe is hoping to persuade Komeito to support his intention to revise Article 9, given that the junior ruling partner has raised doubts about the premier’s goal of revising the war-renouncing provision in 2020 in view of the apparent loss of public trust in the Abe administration in the early summer.

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