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Abe to Call Snap Elections

Abe to Call Snap Elections Abe to Call Snap Elections

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will postpone a planned tax increase and call a general election for December, a newspaper said on Wednesday, in an effort to lock in his grip on power before his voter ratings suffer a slide, according to Reuters.

No election need be called until 2016, but political insiders said Abe, whose support is relatively robust but falling, might seek to renew his mandate for another four years before taking unpopular steps such as restarting nuclear reactors and passing legislation to allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two.

“This will be an election without a cause,” said one coalition lawmaker, adding it would make more sense to seek a new mandate if Abe were to proceed with the tax hike, which most voters oppose. He said that possibility couldn’t be ruled out.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition has almost no chance of losing its lower house majority given the weakness of the opposition camp, but could fall short of the two-thirds it has now, politicians said.

  Self-Immolation

Meanwhile, a Japanese man died after setting himself on fire in a downtown Tokyo park in an apparent protest against the country’s shift away from postwar pacifism under Shinzo Abe, NHK national television said on Wednesday.

Abe’s cabinet in July freed up constraints that had kept the military from fighting abroad, in a major political victory, although one widely opposed by voters.

Police responding to an emergency call on Tuesday night found the man on fire in Hibiya Park, which is near parliament and government offices. He was pronounced dead soon after being taken to hospital.

A video camera recording was found nearby, along with a letter to Abe and the heads of both houses of parliament protesting the easing of the curbs on the military, NHK said.

In June, a man set himself on fire at a busy Tokyo intersection in front of hundreds of bystanders to protest impending approval of the change.

Legislation still needs to be passed to enable the defense changes, against which thousands protested. They are among several unpopular issues Abe confronts next year in the face of declining support.

Financialtribune.com