MS Risk Blog

Japan Calls Snap Elections

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On Monday 25 September, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called an election a year early, stating that he will dissolve parliament on Thursday. It appears that the Prime Minister has called the early election as he seeks to take advantage of high opinion ratings amidst the ongoing North Korean crisis.

The Japanese Prime Minister’s announcement comes as his approval ratings have rebounded from a record low over the summer and with the opposition largely in disarray. His support has surged with rising tensions with North Korea overshadowing criticism for alleged cronyism. Analysts see the early vote as the prime minister’s way to seize the resurgent support and exploit th current weakness of the opposition.

For months, the Japanese Prime Minister’s popular support was badly affected by a string of scandals and unpopular polices. In July, his ratings had dropped to less than 30%. This however recovered to above 50% in September. He has denied allegations of cronyism and on Monday stated that dissolving the lower house was not an attempt at avoiding those allegations. Mr Abe is also trying to push through a widely unpopular shift in Japan’s post-war pacifist defense police, calling for formal recognition of the military in the constitution.

Mr Abe also announced a 2tn yen (US $1.7 billion) stimulus package on education, debt reduction and social spending. During a press conference on Monday evening, Me Abe disclosed that the fresh stimulus was needed for education and social programmes to prepare Japan for the future. He also stated that he would continue on his path of fiscal reform and would use the revenue from the recently introduced sales tax to balance the budget and reduce debt.