Tokyo Governor Koike to Challenge Japanese PM Abe With New Party

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Mr Abe's supporters will point to his promises of spending on education and welfare, to low unemployment, and brightening prospects for the economy.

Support for Abe's party has since rebounded, somewhat helped by his Cabinet reshuffle last month and fading scandals during the parliament's recess.

He said the world has tried exhaustively to reach a settlement with North Korea, starting with the US-backed 1994 Agreed Framework, which collapsed a decade later.

The Japanese public has been divided over Abe's proposal to allow the military more latitude to counter potential threats from countries like North Korea and China that are increasing their military and nuclear capabilities.

Abe is also running on his economic track record, at a moment when Japan has hit its longest growth streak in 11 years and his Abenomics agenda seems to have finally turned a corner.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday announced snap polls in the country next month. He is also seen as eager to hold an election while the Democratic Party struggles to sort itself out under recently elected leader Maehara and with a new party led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike still in its infancy.

The survey comes a day before Abe is expected to announce the elections for the lower house which is going to cover proportional representation districts.

Abe's image as a strong leader has bolstered his ratings amid rising tensions over North Korea's nuclear arms and missile programmes and overshadowed opposition criticism of the premier for suspected cronyism scandals that had eroded his support.

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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has never been more secure in his power.

He said fostering human resources and improving productivity would be two pillars of his Cabinet's policies, adding that the government will compile a policy package worth 2 trillion yen (18 billion USA dollars) to boost support for child care and education.

Abe said at a news conference Monday that part of the revenue from a planned 2019 consumption tax hike would be used for a hefty package for child education and elderly care.

Koike said at a press conference on TV, adding that she would stay on as governor and head the new party.

On two recent occasions Pyongyang fired missiles over the northern island of Hokkaido and has threatened to "sink" Japan into the sea.

The main opposition Democratic Party has been suffering in the polls, with only eight percent of voters planning to vote for them. 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 percent still undecided.

Each time the government has started to make progress, Mr Abe has called an election.