Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of parliament on Thursday, paving the way for a snap election that is expected to be held October 22.
The speaker of the house, Tadamori Oshima, read the statement of dissolution.
Abe is widely seen as trying to reconsolidate his grip on power within the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party, so he can extend the term of his premiership next year. The dissolution of the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber parliament comes more than a year before required by law.
The ruling party, though, faces a growing challenge from a new party launched by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike this week. The Party of Hope has energized some voters, and is gaining renegade lawmakers from the main opposition party.
Abe asked for public support for his “strong diplomacy” on North Korea, which has threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and fired missiles over its northern Hokkaido island twice in the space of a month.
“We need to fight for our children’s future.”
Abe stunned Japan on Monday with a surprise call for a snap election, seeking to capitalise on a weak opposition and a boost in the polls, as voters welcome his hawkish North Korea policy.