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Abe to lay out general election plan on Mon.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering laying out his plan
next Monday to dissolve the lower house later in the week for a
general election in October, a government source said Tuesday.
Abe is looking to hold a press conference to announce he will
disband the House of Representatives on Sept. 28, when the lower
house convenes for an extraordinary session, according to the source.
In line with the schedule, official campaigning would start Oct.
10 for the election on Oct. 22, ruling Liberal Democratic Party
sources said.
As for reasons to dissolve the lower house chamber, the prime
minister is expected to seek a public mandate over the government's
response to escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, its stance
on social security reforms as well as promoting debate on the
revision to Japan's pacifist Constitution.
LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai said Tuesday that Abe has
instructed him to prepare for the election. The prime minister was
quoted as telling Nikai during their meeting on Monday, "I will
decide on (the timing of the election) after returning from the U.N.
General Assembly" on Friday.
Abe, who doubles as the LDP president, is on a five-day trip to
New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.
In a meeting of LDP executives on Tuesday, Nikai expressed the
party's resolve to get all its candidates elected.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, who heads the LDP's junior coalition partner
Komeito party, said his party would accelerate its preparations for
the race, telling reporters, "We will start considering how to brace
for (the election), keeping in mind that we are always on a
battlefield."
Opposition parties also geared up for the upcoming race, with
the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party both holding
executive meetings.
Abe is believed to have made the decision to call an election to
take advantage of disarray in the leading opposition Democratic Party
as well as rebounding approval ratings for his Cabinet following a
series of scandals involving ministers, including cronyism
allegations leveled at the prime minister himself.
Opposition parties criticized Abe's plan, saying he is seeking
his own interest and there is no reason to call an election.
Goshi Hosono, a former environment minister who left the
Democratic Party, said he expects a new party can be launched "within
this month" jointly with independent lawmaker Masaru Wakasa, an ally
of popular Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.
"We'd like to present an option to voters" in the election,
Hosono said on a TV program.
Regarding the possibility of Democratic Party lawmakers or those
who have left the party joining the new political party, Hosono said
he has been "contacted by various members of the Democratic Party"
and he is willing to talk to them.
In the Tokyo metropolitan assembly race in July, Koike's Tomin
First no Kai (Tokyoites First party) won a landslide victory,
defeating the LDP and the Democratic Party.
In hope of tapping into the momentum, Hosono and Wakasa are
planning to field candidates in all of the 25 constituencies in the
capital, sources close to them said. (Sept. 19)