Japan PM Shinzo Abe draws flak for plans to dissolve Lower House without policy speech

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe addresses the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept 20, 2017. PHOTO: NYTIMES

TOKYO (BERNAMA) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will reportedly dissolve the Lower House of Parliament and call a snap election on Sept 28 when Parliament is scheduled to convene for an extraordinary Diet session, local media quoted ruling party sources as saying, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

According to Kyodo News, Mr Abe will, however, not deliver a policy speech or deliberate on issues pertinent to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), including ethical ones that have plagued the LDP, of which Mr Abe is also under fire for.

The opposition camp has expressed its indignation at the Prime Minister's plans to skip the speech and deliberations, with Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara on Thursday (Sept 21) slamming Mr Abe's plan as making a mockery of the highest political process.

"It is an act that ridicules the highest organ of state power," Mr Maehara said.

On behalf of four opposition parties, Democratic Party Secretary-General Atsushi Oshima lodged a strong protest with LDP member Toshihiro Nikai over Mr Abe's decision, sources close to the matter said on Thursday.

Xinhua reported that the four opposition parties - Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and two other smaller parties - believed that Mr Abe is trying to dodge being questioned on an ongoing influence-peddling scandal. Therefore, the four parties agreed that debates must take place.

The Prime Minister is widely expected to dissolve the Lower House of Parliament on Sept 28 to call a snap election, with voters going to the polls on Oct 22. Official campaigning is said to kick off on Oct 10, according to Xinhua.

Mr Abe is expected to cite security issues and a planned consumption tax hike among his reasons for calling a snap election, after he returns from New York where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.

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