Kyodo News reported from Washington that Defense Minister Kono said on Wednesday that there will be a snap general election in October after a successor to outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Abe is selected next week. “We expect an early general election, probably sometime in October,” Kono said during an online event with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, adding that Japan will then be “ready” for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. “I think there’s going to be a very small window for a general election. So the new prime minister will probably grab that window, and you will have a new prime minister elected by the people before you elect the president of the United States,” Kono said.
Kono also said that China has become a “security threat” to Japan, citing Beijing’s intention to change the status quo in the region through force and coercion, including in the East China Sea, where China continues to contest Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands. Stressing that Japan is prepared to “defend every centimeter of our land,” Kono said he believes the Japan-U.S. alliance will serve that end. “If we don’t do that, we’ll see another South China Sea. When China started reclaiming the land, the international society didn’t do anything to stop it, and see what we’ve got,” Kono said, adding that the “same thing can happen” in any other part of the world. NHK carried a similar story.