Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to dissolve the House of Representatives at the outset of an upcoming extraordinary Diet session at the earliest for a snap general election shows that he lacks respect for the will of the people with whom sovereign power resides.
In response, the government and ruling parties are reportedly arranging schedules based on a premise that a general election may be called for Oct. 22 following a possible lower house dissolution on Sept. 28, shortly after the extraordinary session is convened.
The election is highly likely to be held amid rising tensions over North Korea’s provocative acts. Nevertheless, the prime minister is poised to disband the lower house because he believes that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) would unlikely decrease its strength if a general election is called soon. The prime minister’s political calculations are aimed solely at promoting the LDP’s interests.
The largest opposition Democratic Party (DP) is still struggling to restore its unity even after former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara took over its leadership. Abe also apparently believes that a new political party that some legislators plan to form in cooperation with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will not have enough time to prepare for the upcoming election.
Moreover, the fact that Prime Minister Abe is considering dissolving the lower chamber even without holding a policy speech or a question-and-answer meeting at a plenary session has suggested the prime minister’s hidden motives behind his plan to disband the lower house.
Prime Minister Abe’s favoritism scandals involving two school operators — Osaka-based Moritomo Gakuen and Okayama-based Kake Educational Institution — have not been clarified at all. After this year’s regular Diet session closed in June, Abe pledged to “sincerely provide an explanation” about these cases.
Nevertheless, he will avoid explaining the scandals and instead choose to dissolve the chamber apparently in a bid to cover up the issues. If the prime minister were to believe that the scandals would be forgotten by calling a general election, he would deserve criticism that he is making light of the public.
Concerns have been raised about the political vacuum that the prime minister will create by dissolving the lower house as the government needs to respond to North Korea’s provocative acts.
Some legislators within the LDP say it does not matter when the lower house is dissolved because the North Korean problem will likely be prolonged. These politicians should explain their thinking and how they believe the Pyongyang problem should be resolved.
Although the Cabinet’s approval ratings have recovered to a certain extent, this is not the result of the prime minister’s efforts but simply because the public has expectations for the Abe Cabinet out of a sense of crisis over North Korea’s provocative acts.
Last month, Prime Minister Abe praised his reshuffled administration as a “Cabinet comprised of professionals.” However, the prime minister will dissolve the lower house even before presenting the details of his Cabinet’s tasks to the Diet, let alone making any achievements.
There is less of a reason to dissolve the chamber than when Prime Minister Abe did so in November 2014 to ask the public if they supported his decision to postpone the planned consumption tax increase.
The prime minister says he will make a final decision on dissolving the lower house after returning to Japan on Sept. 22 from New York, where he is attending a U.N. General Assembly session. If he were to dissolve the chamber at the outset of the extraordinary session, it would show he is ignoring the will of the public.