Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday dissolved the lower house of parliament. However, a number of opposition lawmakers boycotted the session in which the lower house was dissolved to protest against Abe calling an election and creating a political vacuum at a time when North Korea is firing missiles over Japan.
Earlier on Monday, Abe had announced his decision to call a snap election, which is expected to take place in the second half of October.
Abe came to power in 2012 on the promise of resurrecting the stagnating economy. His performance on the economic front created an impression that he would succeed in retaining his job in the next elections in 2018. But, his popularity began to wane following some controversial decisions, scandals and allegations of using his position to help friends. One line of thinking is that Abe called snap elections to avoid facing difficult questions in parliament.
One of his controversial proposals is to allow troops to fight overseas. Also, an anti-terror law did not go down well with the people. His Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has suffered defeats in local elections.
But his ratings rose after he took a strong stand against North Korea for firing two missiles over Japan. His decision to call for a snap election is being seen as an effort to take advantage of this rise in popularity. He hopes to take advantage of the divisions in the opposition, which lacks a strong leader. However, that could change.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who left his party in May, is emerging as an alternative to Abe. Her allies scored a resounding victory in local elections in Tokyo where Koike enjoys wide popularity.