Japan's PM Abe: Time for talk is over on North Korea

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As he officially announced that he would dissolve the lower house at a news conference on September 25, he highlighted the situation in North Korea as the most important focus for his campaign. If he is re-elected as party leader next year, he could end up serving till 2021, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Japan's political history.

Mr Abe said: "I expect opposition criticism is going to focus on (the scandals), and it's going to be a very hard election".

Abe said he is calling the snap election because he chose to change the allocation of the increased revenues stemming from a planned hike in the consumption tax rate from 8 percent to 10 percent in October 2019. Abe's approval ratings have also been improving since reaching a record low over the summer.

A weekend survey showed that 44% of voters planned to vote for Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, against just 8% for the opposition Democratic Party. They stated that North Korea's nuclear tests pose a direct challenge to the worldwide community, and expressed their strong support for Japan's position, including the complete implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The dollar met with "heavy profit-taking pressure" around ¥112.50, an official at a major Japanese bank said.

Opposition lawmakers had said there was no need for new elections.

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Alongside the announcements are reports that Abe may be planning a snap general election.

Aso, who also serves as deputy prime minister, plans to attend a round of economic talks with U.S. Vice president Mike Pence on October 16, the Japan Times reported Monday.

The prime minister said that the new initiative would be funded by revenue generated by a consumption tax hike that has been delayed until 2019.

The decision to call a snap poll comes amid high regional tensions after North Korea lobbed two intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Hokkaido into the Pacific Ocean, triggering national warning systems in 12 northern and north-eastern prefectures. A total of 475 seats in the lower house will be up for grabs.

Abe is expected to hold a news conference after meeting with party executives and will likely put pledges to spend on education and child care, stay tough on North Korea and revise the constitution at the forefront of his campaign.