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Koike shakes up Japan vote

Koike shakes up Japan vote

Abe stunned Japan on Monday with a surprise call for a snap election, seeking to capitalise on a weak opposition and a boost in the polls, as voters welcome his hawkish policy toward Pyongyang.

"A hard battle starts today", Abe told reporters, shaking his fist.

"This is my responsibility as leader and my mission as prime minister". Shortly after his announcement Abe made his own specific proposal to use money from a scheduled rise in the national sales tax to fund kindergartens and childcare - issues appealing to women.

"We will turn Japan's social security system into one that responds to all generations by boldly diverting policy resources to resolve the two major concerns - child rearing and (elderly) nursing care - that working generations confront", he said. They protested saying his move could create a political vacuum at a time of heightened tension with North Korea. "We have to cooperate with the global community as we face the threat from North Korea".

Maehara had hoped that all the members would be allowed to run for the new party, but said that he understood the reality of the situation. Currently, it holds a two-thirds "super" majority.

He said his goal was for his coalition to retain a majority in the chamber. It was widely believed among ruling and opposition parties that Koike would resign as governor of Tokyo before the election and aim to become prime minister.

Polls also suggest there are a large number of undecided voters, giving some hope to Ms Koike's party that it can bridge the gap.

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"But we are absolutely not lowering the flag of fiscal consolidation", he said.

That means he might have to give up his dream of amending the constitution and altering the pacifistic Article 9 since any change in the constitution would require a supermajority in both houses of parliament.

The leader of the main opposition party in Japan has announced it would not field any candidates in next month's snap election.

Nearly simultaneously Koike announced that she had formed a new political party which she calls in English The Party of Hope, in which to challenge the long ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Koike, at a news conference, denied speculation that she might run for parliament herself.

The question being asked is not whether the LDP party actually win the election, but the concern is levelled around how many seats the LDP-Komeito coalition actually lose and it's this outcome which could cause moves in Japanese assets.

The launch of the new party was orchestrated by Wakasa Masaru, a House of Representatives member from the LDP close to Koike, and Hosono Gōshi, a former environment minister who had left the DP in August.

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