Japan's PM announces snap election amid NK crisis

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Japan's PM announces snap election amid NK crisis

He said his goal is for the ruling party to take over half of the seats of the lower house of parliament.

So weak is Japan's opposition that even in a year of nearly perpetual scandal for Abe and his administration-including questions and public anger over Abe's wife's ties to a school in Osaka that secured a favorable land deal-Japan's voters see no plausible alternative to Abe.

He questioned whether emptying the Diet chamber is a smart move when North Korea is heightening its threats.

A day after US President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks, Mr Abe said: "We consistently support the stance of the US - that "all options are on the table".

At a press conference Monday, Abe unveiled a slew of economic measures including more education spending.

Recent escalating tensions with North Korea have reportedly resulted in a surge in the Japanese Prime Minister's rating after a series of scandals.

The LDP was crushed by Koike's Tokyo Citizens First party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July; her new party will field candidates in all constituencies in not only Tokyo, but across the country.

The Nikkei poll showed that 20 percent were undecided, and a majority said it was inappropriate for Abe to dissolve the lower house this month - more than a year before his government's term is set to expire.

In an apparent bid to steal Abe's limelight, former TV anchorwoman Koike went before the cameras just hours before his news conference to announce she was creating a national political party called "Kibo no To" (Party of Hope).

Abe said he is also seeking a fresh mandate from the electorate so that his administration can respond on a more solid footing to the security challenges posed by North Korea's ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons programs.

With elections now less than a month away, it is unlikely that the opposition will get its act together in time to threaten Abe's role as Prime Minister.

Abe said he would redirect some revenue from a planned sales tax hike in 2019 to child care and education rather than paying back public debt, although he added he would not abandon fiscal reform.

The escalating nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula has allowed Abe to emerge with the image of a strong leader.

In an opinion poll conducted from Friday through Sunday by the Nikkei, 44% of respondents said they planned to vote for the LDP, followed by a combined 8% for two main opposition parties.

"There is no military solution, because that would be a disaster, not only for North Korea but for South Korea, the whole peninsula and Japan", he told reporters.

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