Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Crisis Management a Focus during Upcoming Election

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Crisis Management a Focus during Upcoming Election

Article excerpt

Despite the increasingly tense state of affairs involving North Korea, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on Thursday for a general election, raising concern over how the government will deal with crisis management during the campaign.

The opposition parties have criticized Abe as being "irresponsible in the face of our citizens' anxiety."

Meanwhile, the government and ruling parties insist their preparations will prevent a political vacuum during the campaign.

The election is expected to take place on Oct. 22, with official campaigning starting on Oct. 10.

After a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Abe called Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera into his office.

Abe was quoted as telling them: "National security problems are at a crucial juncture. I basically want you to focus on your duties inside Tokyo."

Abe's aim is to make the two "caretakers" for any unexpected contingency while the prime minister goes around the country to give campaign speeches.

Onodera is expected to stay within 30 minutes of the Defense Ministry, sources said.

North Korea has engaged in repeated provocations recently. On Aug. 29 and Sept. 15 it sent ballistic missiles flying over Hokkaido. And on Sept. 3 it conducted its sixth nuclear test.

The recriminations between the United States and North Korea have also been fierce.

The expected start of official campaigning, Oct. 10, is also the foundation day of the Workers' Party of Korea. "North Korea will take some kind of action" around the day, a government source said.

In this situation, the opposition has harshly criticized Abe, with Democratic Party President Seiji Maehara asking: "Can Japan be described as safe? Does [Abe] really think that a political vacuum can be allowed?"

In response, Abe asked for the public's understanding at a press conference Monday. "North Korea's threats should never influence the election," he said.

How NSC would react

When North Korea launches a ballistic missile, an emergency response team made up of officials from the Cabinet Secretariat, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, National Police Agency and others meets to gather information. …

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