Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has called an election a year early, in a surprise move designed to shore up his power.
Abe’s (pictured) approval ratings fell to a record low of sub-30% in the summer, but have since rebounded above 50% after the tensions with North Korea overshadowed unpopular reform policies.
He will dissolve parliament on Thursday and the election will be held on 22 October. He has also announced a new 2 trillion yen (£13.2 billion) stimulus package focused on debt reduction, education and social spending.
Part of the funding of the stimulus package will come from the raising of consumption tax from 8% to 10% in 2019.
Abe is also pushing for the legal recognition of Japan's Self-Defense Forces, which requires a constitutional change, in light of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
With the opposition in disarray, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has announced that she will lead a ‘party of hope’ to fight Abe’s Liberal Democrats.