Maehara, Ozawa rebuke Abe's explanation for holding election

by Harriet Bell September 27, 2017, 0:25
Maehara, Ozawa rebuke Abe's explanation for holding election

Abe set the breakup of the powerful lower house of parliament for Thursday because that's when lawmakers return from a three-month summer recess.

"The Japanese public may view it as a cynical and opportunistic move, especially given the severity of the North Korean crisis", said Sano.

"Elections, which are the foundation of democracy, must not be affected by North Korea's threats", he said.

Mr Abe warned that global credibility was on the line, saying North Korea is on the threshold of mastering hydrogen bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles that would be able to strike the US.

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Abe has struggled with low approval ratings in recent months, but has seen an uptick following the recent heightened tensions with North Korea and the growing risk of nuclear proliferation in the region.

According to a weekend poll in business daily Nikkei, 44 percent of Japanese plan to vote for Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), while only eight percent favoured the main opposition Democratic Party.

In that case, Abe could end up no better than Theresa May: another Prime Minister who called early elections to capitalize on a divided opposition and strengthen her hand, only to emerge chastened and weakened.

This party humiliated Abe and the LDP in local elections in July but commentators say she has not had time to create the necessary foundations at national level.

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He accused North Korea of swindling Japan and other countries out of aid money and urged the global community to follow through strictly on sanctions.

Abe on Monday asked his cabinet to compile a 2-trillion-yen ($17.8-billion) economic package by year-end to focus on child care, education and encouraging corporate investment, while maintaining fiscal discipline.

Support ratings for Abe's government have begun to rebound as attacks on its cronyism scandals have faded during parliament's recess, while opposition parties are regrouping. He said he'd pay for them with funds from a consumption tax increase originally meant to rein in the nation's swollen debt.

A Kyodo news agency survey showed the LDP garnering a far lower 27.7 percent, with 42.2 percent of the electorate undecided.

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"Some people are really sort of cynical about the fact that Mr. Abe has been basically calling the nation to duck and cover while North Korea launches a missile, and now calls a snap election presumably because it's okay to conduct a political campaign even when North Korea is flying missiles", said Nakano. A survey last weekend by the Nikkei business daily newspaper indicated that 44 percent of voters meant to vote for Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

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