Japan's Abe not ruling out snap election early next year amid speculation

2016-10-04 11:39:38 GMT2016-10-04 19:39:38(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

TOKYO, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not rule out the possibility of dissolving the lower house of Japan's parliament and calling a snap election as early as next January.

The Japanese leader on Tuesday stated at the lower house budget committee session that the idea was not completely unimaginable ahead of an assessment of lower house electoral constituencies to address past lower house vote disparities.

Abe said his decision to dissolve the lower house would not be affected by the redistricting plan.

He was responding to a question from Yuichi Goto, a lawmaker from the main opposition Democratic Party, who suggested that dissolving the lower chamber ahead of a review of lower house constituencies and the formulation of a redistricting plan would be "in a state of unconstitutionality."

"Even under these circumstances, a Cabinet decision to dissolve the House of Representatives would not be denied based on the public offices election law and other laws," Abe told Goto.

While upper house elections are scheduled, and lower house lawmakers elected to serve four-year terms, it is at the prime minister's discretion as to when to dissolve the lower chamber of Japan's bicameral system of parliament and call a snap election.

Speculation that Abe might dissolve the lower chamber before an ordinary Diet session convenes in January has been swirling of late, with Hakubun Shimomura, executive acting secretary general of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) stating that such an event "could happen."

In addition, opposition parties have been gearing up for such a scenario, and at the end of September the leaders of the Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party (JCP), People's Life and Social Democratic parties convened for the first time and agreed in principal to cooperate to better stand against the LDP.

All four parties in the upper house election held in July fielded joint candidates and this basic principle will be continued and the parties have also been cooperating during Diet sessions, to hold Abe and the LDP more accountable over thorny issues such as constitutional change and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

JCP leader Kazuo Shii advised the joining of forces ahead of by-elections in lower house districts in Tokyo and Fukuoka Prefecture, and the idea was commended by the other parties.

Adding further credence to the possibility Abe may dissolve the lower house in January, Social Democratic Party Secretary General Seiji Mataichi has made it clear to the other parties that a "collective strategy would be advisable for each lower house constituency" ahead of such a scenario at the beginning of next year.