Elections weigh on euro, kiwi until North Korea's late words

North Koreans watch missiles

The decision to call snap polls comes at a time when tension prevails over North Korea's missile launches over Japan.

Abe said that he will dissolve the lower house of Parliament and call elections in October. North Korea has already demonstrated its disregard of the resolutions by launching yet another missile.

At a time of national crisis over North Korea, Japanese voters may see it as a "cynical and opportunistic move" created to divert attention from the scandals that weighed on Abe's popularity, warned Sano.

At the press conference, the prime minster also raised the issue of North Korea's nuclear and missile development. "Because of the situation that we now face, I want to hold an election in order to ask the public to make a decision on how the North Korean issue should be dealt with".

North Korea is "a threat to all humanity" that requires a major escalation of global sanctions and perhaps military action to bring the regime to heel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday.

Growing Japanese support for strong defensive measures could also help Abe achieve his long held goal to end constraints imposed on the military by the country's post World War II pacifist constitution. While highlighting his government's resolve to protect the people's lives and properties, he said, "North Korea's threats should never influence the election, which is the point of origin for democracy".

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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.

"In theory, Abe has more than a year left (in office), but he is aware of the fact that his support levels are unlikely to improve much more", said Koichi Nakano, a professor of Japanese politics at Tokyo's Sophia University.

Earlier, when concerns had been more docile, the German election result was seen as a "disappointing win" for Chancellor Angela Merkel as her grand coalition fell apart and she now faces weeks of negotiations to try and form a "Jamaica" coalition with the yellow-badged liberal FDP and the Greens.

"Despite the seemingly favourable backdrop for Abe, there are risks in calling a snap election", said Yoel Sano, an analyst at BMI research.

The election is to be held on Oct 22 with official campaigning beginning Oct 10, Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, told reporters after a meeting with Mr Abe on Monday afternoon.

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