After a flurry of inital reports last week that parliament may soon be dissolved, Japanese news media said over the weekend that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely announce plans Tuesday for a snap election, expected for Dec. 14. The move would seek a fresh mandate for Abe's economic policies, said reports in Kyodo News, the Yomiuri Shimbun and others, with the prime minister also expected to delay plans for his second hike to the nationwide consumption tax. Official campagning for the election would likely start Dec. 2, Kyodo said. The second consumption-tax hike -- following an earlier increase in April of this year that hit Japan's economy hard -- was originally slated for October 2015, but may reportedly be delayed until April 2017. Meanwhile, the Abe government's term expires December 2016 if no new election is called.
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