Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would dissolve parliament's lower house on Thursday for a snap election, seeking a mandate to stick to his tough stance towards a volatile North Korea and rebalance the social security system.
Abe, in power for five years, had been expected to call the election for next month to take advantage of improved support and disarray in the opposition camp.
"I'll demonstrate strong leadership and stand at the forefront to face a national crisis," Abe told reporters, mentioning Japan's fast-ageing population and North Korea.
"This is my responsibility as leader and my mission as prime minister." Natsuo Yamaguchi, the head of Abe's junior coalition partner the Komeito party, said he understood the election would be on Oct. 22.
Abe said he would redirect some revenue from a planned sales tax hike in 2019 to child care and education rather than paying back public debt, although he added he would not abandon fiscal reform. Rebalancing the spending would offset the potential negative effect on consumption from the tax rise, he said.