Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved parliament's lower house on Friday for a snap election on Dec. 14, seeking a fresh mandate for his struggling "Abenomics" revival strategy just two years after he returned to power promising that "Japan is Back."
Abe had vowed to revive the economy with a mix of hyper-easy monetary policy, government spending and reforms, while moving ahead with plans to rein in Japan's massive public debt.
But doubts have grown about his strategy, especially after data showed this week that the economy had surprisingly slipped into recession in the third quarter after an initial rise in the sales tax to 8 percent from April.
"This is an 'Abenomics' snap election. Will 'Abenomics' go forward, or stop in its tracks? That is the question in this election," Abe told a news conference. "Are our economic policies a mistake, or are they correct? Is there really any other way? This is what we want to ask all the people."