Japan Sets Election DateOctober 9, 2017 in Uncategorized
Japan has set a snap election date, announcing that the polls will be held on 22 October, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to gain on momentum of voter support standing in the wake of rising tensions with North Korea. However a fledgling party, led by popular Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, gained momentum late last month, as the biggest opposition Democratic Party stated that it would step aside to let its candidate run under her conservative, reformist banner.
After the Cabinet formally set the date of the election, Prime Minister Abe told reporters, “I decided to call this election because we must overcome the national crisis of the threat from North Korea and an ageing population by obtaining a mandate for the people.” However some opposition lawmakers boycotted the dissolution session, in protest against the prime minister’s election decision, which could bring about a political vacuum at a time of high tensions with North Korea over its missile and nuclear arms programmes.
Prime Minister Abe, a conservative who returned to power in 2012, is hoping that a recent boost in voter support will help his Liberal Democratic Party – led (LDP) coalition maintain a simple majority. It currently holds a two-thirds “super” a majority. However Koike’s new Party of Hope, which was only formally launched on Wednesday 27 September, has upended the outlook for the lection after the former LDP member announced that she would lead it herself. Speaking at news conference, Koike disclosed, “I’m someone who is always s ready to take action.” Koike further stated that she would not run for a seat herself, although speculation persists that she will. He name has often been floated to be Japan’s first female prime minister.
Democratic Party executives have disclosed that they would not run candidates of their own and would let members run under the Party of Hope banner. The party has struggled to overcome rock-bottom ratings, defections and an image that was tainted by its rocky stint in power from 2009 until 2012.
A survey by the Mainichi newspaper showed that 18 percent of voters plan to vote for Koike’s party, compared to 29 percent for the prime minister’s ruling LDP. Meanwhile an Asahi newspaper poll showed 13 percent planned to vote for her party, versus 32 percent for the LDP. Both surveys asked voters their preference for proportional representation districts where ballots are cast for parties, rather than candidates.
In recent months, the prime minister’s personal ratings have risen to about 50 percent from about 30 percent in July, partly on the back of his leadership during the current North Korea crisis. However opposition parties say that he called the election to escape questioning in parliament about suspected cronyism scandals that had cut into his support.