Japanese PM calls snap election for October

Kim Jong-un celebrates a missile launch

Mr Abe's image as a strong leader has bolstered his ratings amid rising tension over North Korea's nuclear arms and missile programmes and overshadowed opposition criticism of the premier for suspected cronyism scandals that had eroded his support.

The lower house will be dissolved at the beginning of the extraordinary Diet session starting September 28.

The greenback climbed to around ¥112.40 early in the morning, because hopes for economic stimulus measures grew ahead of the anticipated election and investors were relieved to see North Korea take no further provocative action over the weekend, market sources said.

In this Jan 25, 2017 photo, Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike smiles during a press conference at the Tokyo Metropolitan government office in Tokyo.

Japan must hold the voting before the end of next year, but Abe has likely decided on the snap election to capitalize on his Liberal Democratic Party's two-thirds majority, with a coalition partner, in the House. Gov. Koike is launching a new political party to challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party in national elections that are expected next month.

Abe wants to remove restrictions on the country's Self Defense Forces, the de facto military, as they engage in more exercises and other activity with USA and allies amid growing tensions with North Korea. "Economically, the world is making a big move while Japan's presence is gradually declining", Koike said.

"The LDP is a giant among dwarves".

He said his goal was for his coalition to retain a majority in the chamber. She used a similar good-governance message to crush Abe's party in a local Tokyo election in July.

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He said fostering human resources and improving productivity would be two pillars of his Cabinet's policies, adding that the government will compile a policy package worth 2 trillion yen (18 billion USA dollars) to boost support for child care and education.

"I want people's support".

Abe has served as Japan's prime minister for almost six years.

The ruling coalition now controls 68 percent of seats in the 475-member lower house, including 288 for the LDP and 35 for its coalition partner Komeito, according to the parliamentary website.

"Despite the seemingly favourable backdrop for Abe, there are risks in calling a snap election", said Yoel Sano, an analyst at BMI research.

"I'll demonstrate strong leadership and stand at the forefront to face a national crisis", Mr Abe told reporters, mentioning Japan's fast-ageing population and North Korea. "Dynamism is crucial to change politics", Matsubara said.

If re-elected, it would be Abe's fourth term. He was the country's youngest prime minister when he first won the top job aged 52.

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