Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he is “not thinking at all” about dissolving the House of Representatives, addressing recent speculation he could call a snap election as soon as January next year.
At the same time, Abe said he cannot rule out dissolving the chamber prior to a review of lower house electoral constituencies expected by May next year.
Speaking at a lower house budget committee session, Abe expressed his understanding that his discretion to dissolve the lower house will not be affected by the redistricting plan, aimed at lessening a disparity in the weight of votes between sparsely and densely populated constituencies.
Abe made the remarks in response to a question by Yuichi Goto, a lawmaker from the main opposition Democratic Party.
Goto asserted that any dissolution of the lower house prior to electoral district reform would be “in a state of unconstitutionality,” echoing language used by the Supreme Court to describe the last lower house race in December 2014 due to the vote weight disparity at the time.
“Even under these circumstances, a Cabinet decision to dissolve the House of Representatives would not be denied based on the public offices election law and other (laws),” Abe said.
Expectations that Abe could dissolve the chamber before an ordinary Diet session convenes in January have swelled following comments Sunday by Hakubun Shimomura, executive acting secretary general of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, who said such an event “could happen.”
By law, lower house lawmakers are elected to four-year terms, but the prime minister reserves the sole right to dissolve the chamber at any time.