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While general elections in Japan were not legally due for another 14 months, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s snap decision to hold them on 22 October should surprise no one.

At first glance, the timing seemed puzzling. Economic improvements notwithstanding, 2017 has not been kind to the Abe government. His cabinet approval ratings plummeted in March in the wake of revelations that a private, staunchly nationalistic, kindergarten for which his wife served as ‘honorary principal’ received an inexplicably heavy discount in its purchase of government land. Before he could recover from that, Abe was embroiled yet again in another scandal over political favouritism for a personal friend seeking to open his own veterinary school. His approval ratings fell to 26 per cent — the lowest point of his second term in office, which began in December 2012. Read more

While general elections in Japan were not legally due for another 14 months, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s snap decision to hold them on 22 October should surprise no one.

At first glance, the timing seemed puzzling. Economic improvements notwithstanding, 2017 has not been kind to the Abe government. His cabinet approval ratings plummeted in March in the wake of revelations that a private, staunchly nationalistic, kindergarten for which his wife served as ‘honorary principal’ received an inexplicably heavy discount in its purchase of government land. Before he could recover from that, Abe was embroiled yet again in another scandal over political favouritism for a personal friend seeking to open his own veterinary school. His approval ratings fell to 26 per cent — the lowest point of his second term in office, which began in December 2012. 

While general elections in Japan were not legally due for another 14 months, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s snap decision to hold them on 22 October should surprise no one.

At first glance, the timing seemed puzzling. Economic improvements notwithstanding, 2017 has not been kind to the Abe government. His cabinet approval ratings plummeted in March in the wake of revelations that a private, staunchly nationalistic, kindergarten for which his wife served as ‘honorary principal’ received an inexplicably heavy discount in its purchase of government land. Before he could recover from that, Abe was embroiled yet again in another scandal over political favouritism for a personal friend seeking to open his own veterinary school. His approval ratings fell to 26 per cent — the lowest point of his second term in office, which began in December 2012.