Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called a snap election, as fresh opinion polls showed a fledgling conservative party led by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was gaining momentum ahead of the expected Oct. 22 vote.
Abe, a conservative who returned to power in 2012, is hoping a boost in his voter support in recent months will help his Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition maintain a simple majority. It currently holds a two-thirds “super” majority.
Koike’s new Party of Hope — only formally launched on Wednesday — has upended the election outlook after the former LDP member announced she would lead the group herself.
“This will be a tough battle, but it’s all about how we will protect Japan, and the lives and peaceful existence of the Japanese people,” Abe told a group of lawmakers. The cabinet will formally decide the date of the poll later on Thursday.