Abe An­nounces Plan to Dis­solve Lower House Amid Con­tro­versy

Fiji Sun - - Asia News -

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe an­nounced at a press con­fer­ence on Mon­day that he will dis­solve the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives when it con­venes to­mor­row to pave way for a gen­eral elec­tion.

The prime min­is­ter said that the snap elec­tion was called to seek a fresh man­date to over­come a na­tional cri­sis caused by “the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing Ja­pan, which is the pop­u­la­tion aging and low birthrate,” as well as se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

He said that he would seek a man­date from the peo­ple for shift­ing the us­age of part of the rev­enue gen­er­ated by a con­sump­tion tax hike that has been de­layed un­til 2019 from pay­ing debt to wel­fare poli­cies.

He said that fostering hu­man re­sources and im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity would be two pil­lars of his Cab­i­net’s poli­cies, adding that the gov­ern­ment would com­pile a pol­icy pack­age worth US$18 bil­lion (F$36bn) by the end of this year to boost sup­port for child care and ed­u­ca­tion.

The pol­icy pack­age would in­clude mea­sures to make preschool ed­u­ca­tion and day care ser­vices free for chil­dren aged be­tween three and five and re­duce the fi­nan­cial bur­dens for higher ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to Abe.

He also said that he would seek public sup­port for a tougher stance over the Korea Penin­sula is­sue. Re­gard­ing the re­cent fa­voritism scan­dals that brought down his sup­port rat­ings, Abe said he ex­pects a “tough elec­tion” with harsh crit­i­cisms from op­po­si­tion par­ties.

He said he would call the elec­tion a success if the rul­ing bloc could take over half of the seats of the lower house of par­lia­ment.

Abe’s de­ci­sion to call for a snap elec­tion has drawn staunch crit­i­cism from op­po­si­tion par­ties, which ac­cused the prime min­is­ter of flee­ing from crony­ism ac­cu­sa­tions.

Abe has been un­der fire for his con­nec­tion with na­tion­al­ist pri­vate school op­er­a­tor Morit­omo Gakuen, which pur­chased a piece of sta­te­owned land in Osaka for only a frac­tion of the market price.

The snap elec­tion is slated for Octo-

Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

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