Fumio Kishida, who formally took over as Japan's new prime minister on Monday, is set to dissolve parliament next week. In line with his plan to form a new government, Kishida had called for new elections that will be held on Oct. 31.
Political analysts said Kishida is exploiting the traditional honeymoon period a new government is given, while also taking advantage of the recent drop in new COVID-19 cases to gain further support for his new administration.
Outgoing prime minister Yoshihide Suga had enjoyed the same honeymoon period, receiving a rating of above 70% during the first few months of his tenure. Suga's ratings later took a nosedive after his handling of the pandemic was heavily criticized. This eventually led him to step down and give way to a new figurehead of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Sources with knowledge in the matter said Kishida plans to dissolve parliament as soon as Oct. 14. He then plans to announce new elections within this week. Analysts at the Center for American Progress said Kishida likely does not want to waste any time.
Analysts said if Kishida manages to win the general elections and win the majority of the upper house next year, he will retain his position as prime minister without any elections for the next three years. Analysts said Kishida likely does not want to repeat Suga's mistake of not calling for an election when he had strong support.
Kishida will reportedly be announcing a new cabinet this week, one that will include allies of former prime minister Shinzo Abe. Kishida had won the elections with the support of Abe and outgoing finance minister, Taro Aso. The move is expected to retain a relatively conservative influence within the new administration.
"He won the election with the support of Abe and Aso, so now it's time for him to return the favor, it's not the time for him to cut them off," analysts said.
Some of Abe's allies that will be part of Kishida's cabinet include Abe's brother, Nobuo Kishi, who will remain as Japan's defense minister. Aso will be replaced by his brother-in-law, Shunichi Suzuki, as the new finance minister.
Sources said 13 out of the 20 cabinet positions will be occupied by people with no cabinet experience. Kishida previously stated that he wanted to give new people a chance. Three women will be included in the new line-up, one more than on Suga's cabinet.