TOKYO — Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dissolved the lower house of parliament on Thursday, paving the way for an October 31 election that will be Japan’s first pandemic.
At stake will be how Japan copes with a possible coronavirus resurgence and revives its battered economy, and whether or not Kishida’s government can leave the shadow of the nearly nine years of the Abe-Suga regime, describing some diverse views. Dominates to the point of suppressing.
Kishida said he is only seeking a mandate for his policies after he was elected prime minister by parliament 10 days ago.
He replaces Yoshihide Suga, who lasted just a year as prime minister and whose support has been bolstered by his perceived high-level approach in tackling the coronavirus and holding the Tokyo Olympics despite rising virus cases.
Kishida, who has rallied in support of the ruling party, has promised to pursue a politics of “trust and sympathy”.
Speaker of the House Tadamori Oshima announced the dissolution of the plenary session. In the more powerful lower house, 465 MPs stood up, shouted “Banzai” three times and left. The official campaign for all the 465 new vacant seats is starting from Tuesday.
The last lower house election was in 2017 under the leadership of Shinzo Abe, a staunch conservative who, while serving as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, pulled the long-ruled conservative Liberal Democratic Party to the right. .
In an earlier lower house vote, the LDP and its coalition partner New Komito together won 310 seats, or two-thirds of the chamber.
The four main opposition parties have agreed to cooperate on some policies, such as bridging the gap between rich and poor, which they say has widened during Abe’s government and worsened by the pandemic.
Despite weak public support for the LDP under Suga, opposition parties have struggled to win enough votes to form a new government following the brief rule of the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan in 2009–2012.
Kishida earlier on Friday visited the offices of senior LDP members and expressed his resolve to win the election.
In his first policy speech last week, Kishida promised to strengthen the country’s pandemic response, revive the economy and strengthen defenses against threats from China and North Korea. He also demanded gradual expansion of social and economic activities by using vaccination certificates and more testing.