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[TOKYO] Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will dissolve the lower house of parliament on Sept 28 ahead of a general election.
Voting will be set for Oct. 22, according to three people with knowledge of his ruling coalition’s plans.
Speaking at a press conference to make the announcement,Mr Abe said "North Korea cannot deter our efforts towards democracy."
Heightened tensions with North Korea have boosted Mr Abe's approval rating after a series of scandals, and may help him retain his coalition's two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament.
Ahead of Mr Abe's remarks, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike announced that she would form a new national party to challenge him. Ms Koike, a former member of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said Monday that her "Party of Hope" would run candidates across the nation.
Mr Abe announced Monday he had ordered Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to compile a US$18 billion economic package, including spending on preschool and higher education, as well as improving conditions for people working in elderly care. The premier said he would make use of revenues from a planned increase in the nation's consumption tax in October 2019.
A poll published in the Nikkei newspaper on Monday said Mr Abe's LDP received 44 per cent of support, compared to 8 per cent for both Koike's group and the main opposition Democratic Party. Another survey by Kyodo News published on Sunday showed the LDP with a more than three-to-one margin against its closest rival, with 42 per cent still undecided.