Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dissolved the lower house of parliament in preparation for a snap election expected on December 14.
Friday's action is seen as an attempt to strengthen support for Abe's government, after the country surprisingly slipped into a recession at the end of the third quarter. As a result of the bad economy, Abe postponed an unpopular 10 percent sales tax hike until next October.
The Japanese leader has pledged to resign if his party loses its majority in parliament. But analysts say that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is likely to retain a majority with its coalition partner, the Komeito party.