Abe cites 'national crisis' in calling an early election

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected to reiterate hard line on North Korea at UN General Assembly

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would dissolve parliament's lower house on Thursday for a snap election, seeking a mandate to stick to his tough stance toward a volatile North Korea and rebalance the social security system.

In parallel to the announcement of the dissolution of the lower house of parliament on 28 September, Abe unveiled Tokyo's supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, as was standard practice.

Shortly before Abe told LDP members of his dissolution plan, Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike said she is establishing a new national-level political party called the "Kibo" (Hope) party.

Some 42.2% said they have yet to decide which party to vote for, while 6.2% said they would support the new party being organized by the Koike camp - although this was before she announced that she would be its leader.

"North Korea's nuclear weapons either already are, or are on the verge of becoming, hydrogen bombs", he argued.

Seoul, one of the world's biggest cities and economic engines, lies just 55km from North Korean frontlines - meaning millions of lives could be at risk if conflict breaks out.

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Both the ruling and opposition parties have ramped up preparations for the expected election, drawing up their campaign pledges and promoting discussions over electoral cooperation among opposition forces. "Can we continue letting [the existing lawmakers] handle politics?"

"Japan is facing a hard time considering the situation in North Korea".

Despite a recent run of growth, the election victor will also have to contend with a sluggish economy, as the heavily indebted country grapples with a low birth rate and a shrinking labour force.

At the UN, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven also voiced concern over Mr Trump's bellicose tone and urged dialogue in tandem with sanctions.

The LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito control 323 seats, or more than two-thirds, in the Lower House. According to reports, surveys in Japan have pointed out that the voters approve of Abe's hardline stand against North Korea. He was the country's youngest prime minister when he first won the top job aged 52.

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