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Japan's Political Shakeup

How the Snap Elections Are Changing the Party Landscape

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Yuriko Koike at a debate in Tokyo, October 2017. Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

On September 28, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of the Japanese Diet and called a snap election for October 22. The move was a calculated gamble to seize on the modest recovery in Abe’s approval ratings that has accompanied increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Abe’s hope is that the Japanese electorate will return his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to office without costing him the two-thirds supermajority that he currently holds with a coalition partner, the Komeito Party—a possibility that seemed remote earlier this summer, when the Abe government’s approval ratings sank to only 32.5 percent, their lowest point ever.

Abe’s government has suffered in the polls in recent months due to a string of influence-peddling scandals as well as a number of political gaffes by key aides, including the former defense minister and Abe protégé Tomomi Inada. Since the low point in

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