Abe to decide on snap election after US trip

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York tomorrow.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York tomorrow.

TOKYO • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will decide on the timing of a snap election after he returns on Friday from a trip this week to address the United Nations.

"Regarding the dissolution of the Lower House, I would like to refrain from commenting on every question, but I would like to make a decision when I return home," Mr Abe told reporters yesterday as he left for New York, according to a Foreign Ministry transcript.

Mr Abe is considering calling a general election - the third since he swept to power in December 2012 - as early as Oct 22, to take advantage of a rebound in his approval ratings after a series of scandals for the coalition government, and disarray in the main opposition party, government and ruling party sources told Reuters on Sunday.

Mr Abe is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly and the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow, and is seeking to arrange meetings with United States President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In before returning home on Friday.

An early vote would take advantage of defections in the opposition Democratic Party and could also dilute a potential challenge from an embryonic party that allies of popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, a former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, are trying to form.

Mr Abe's coalition would be likely to lose its two-thirds "super majority" in the Lower House but keep a simple majority, political sources said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Abe to decide on snap election after US trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe