TOKYO, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is gearing up to dissolve the lower house of parliament and call a snap general election, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai confirmed on Tuesday.
Prior to Abe's departure Monday for a five-day trip to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, Abe told Nikai during a meeting that he "will decide on the timing of the snap election after returning from the UN General Assembly on Friday."
Nikai on Tuesday, during a meeting of ruling LDP executives reportedly conveyed Abe's intentions and relayed the party's determination to get all of its candidates fielded in the race.
Abe, who also heads the LDP, is set to provisionally dissolve the lower chamber of Japan's bicameral system of parliament on Sept. 28, as this is when the extraordinary Diet session will be convened, according to LDP sources close to the matter.
This scenario would see official campaigning for the national poll kick off on Oct. 10, with voters thereafter casting their ballots on Oct. 22.
The opposition camp, however, has criticized Abe's move to call a snap election, with some accusing him of merely trying to escape from the influence-peddling scandals he is currently implicated in and engineering his stay in power.
The support rate for Abe's cabinet has improved moderately recently, and the opposition camp has accused the prime minister of taking advantage of this and have slammed the possible general election as being unnecessary and serving Abe's personal, not political objectives.
In addition, the fact that new opposition parties in the process of being formed will not have time to organize themselves and mount a serious challenge to Abe and the LDP in such a short space of time, has made many political watchers question Abe's regard for democracy and the will of the people.
A lower house election must be held by December 2018 as this is when the four-year terms of current lower house lawmakers expire.
However, the prime minister has the authority to dissolve the lower chamber and call a general election at will.
Abe last dissolved the lower house of parliament in November 2014 and thereafter led the ruling coalition to a sweeping victory in the following election in December.
If Abe goes ahead with his plan to call a snap election, then three by-elections that have been slated to take place on Oct. 22 would be replaced by the general election.