Shinzo Abe Eying snap election, to focus on education and child care

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the World Leaders for Universal Health Coverage event held at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Vastavam web: Pledges to spend on education and child care, stay tough on North Korea and revise the pacifist constitution are likely to be pillars of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign in a snap election next month, government sources said on Tuesday.Abe is expected to announce on Monday that he will call a general election on Oct. 22 to take advantage of a rebound in his damaged approval ratings and disarray in the opposition, ruling party and government sources said.A solid victory would boost Abe’s chances of a third term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader in a party election next September, putting him on track to become Japan’s longest-serving premier. “That is his biggest goal,” said veteran independent political analyst Minoru Morita.
Abe’s support rose 6.5 points to 50.3 percent in a poll conducted over the weekend by the Sankei newspaper and the Fuji News Network, while backing for the LDP was at 38 percent compared to 6.4 percent for the main opposition Democratic Party.Japan’s social welfare system is weighted toward spending on the elderly, with people aged 65 and over accounting for a whopping 27.7 percent of the population according to the latest government data.
“You can promise anything you want – make a nod toward a more equitable society, empowering women, work-life balance, welfare for all generations,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University Japan.“We have to maintain fiscal discipline, regardless,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters when asked about reports of such a shift.
Abe has said he will decide on a snap election after he returns from the United States on Friday.The opposition Democrats are struggling not only with single-digit support but also a raft of defections.That means the LDP and its junior coalition partner, the Komeito, have a shot at retaining their two-thirds majority in the lower house, political analysts said.
However, some analysts believe Abe’s electoral base could be undermined by voter distaste over suspected cronyism scandals and concerns about creating a political vacuum even as North Korea raises tensions with its nuclear and missile tests.