Japan's lower house to be dissolved, PM tells party

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will call a general election for October 22, according to three people with knowledge of his ruling coalition's plans, seeking to take advantage of a recovery in support and nip in the bud a challenge from a new opposition party.

Mr Abe said: "I expect opposition criticism is going to focus on (the scandals), and it's going to be a very hard election".

A latest poll stated that Abe's LDP party received a total of 44 percent of support in comparison to 8 percent support for the main opposition Democratic Party and Koike's group.

Tokyo's governor, whose city grouping won a municipal assembly landslide in July, said her new party would be conservative and would push for transparency in government, women's advancement and elimination of nuclear energy.

After lashing out at Pyongyang over its repeated provocations, Abe stated: "Elections that are the starting point of democracies should not be affected by any threats that may emerge from North Korea".

"Japan is facing a hard time considering the situation in North Korea".

"Japan is facing a hard time considering the situation in North Korea". "Can we continue letting [the existing lawmakers] handle politics?"

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Abe said Japan's "biggest problem" was a declining number of children in an ageing society.

Before speaking to LDP executives and Yamaguchi, Mr Abe told a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy he plans to launch a 2 trillion yen ($17.8 billion) economic plan, centring on free preschool education and other social support.

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"Despite the seemingly favourable backdrop for Abe, there are risks in calling a snap election", said Yoel Sano, an analyst at BMI research.

Mr Abe demanded strict implementation of United Nations sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime, the latest round of which includes a ban on the country's textile exports and a freeze on work permits to North Korean guest workers.

Abe, the third generation of a powerful political family, appeared to be groomed for power from an early age.