Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, dissolved the lower house of parliament on Thursday, paving the way for the October 31 national elections.
Kishida said he seeks the public’s mandate for his policies after being elected prime minister by parliament just 10 days ago to replace Yoshihide Suga.
Tadamori Oshima, the speaker of the most powerful lower house, announced the dissolution in a plenary session.
In the announcement, all 465 lower house lawmakers stood up, yelled “banzai” three times, and left. They have now lost their seats and the official campaign for a new lower house begins on Tuesday.
The last lower house elections were held in 2017 under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
His successor, Suga, lasted only a year as prime minister and his government’s support was mistreated by his perceived overbearing approach to dealing with the coronavirus and his insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics despite mounting cases that angered the public.
Kishida, charged with rallying support for the ruling party, has vowed to follow a policy of “trust and empathy.”
In his first political speech last Friday, Kishida vowed to strengthen the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in the event of another resurgence and revive its battered economy while bolstering defenses against threats from China and North Korea.