Japan is on track for national elections on October 31 after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dissolved the lower house of parliament.
Mr Kishida said he is seeking the public’s mandate for his policies after being elected prime minister by parliament only 10 days ago to replace Yoshihide Suga.
Tadamori Oshima, the speaker of the more powerful lower chamber, announced the dissolution at a plenary session.
The last lower house election was held in 2017 under former prime minister Shinzo Abe.
His successor, Mr Suga, lasted just a year as prime minister and his government’s support was battered by his perceived high-handed approach in dealing with the coronavirus and insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics despite rising cases in moves that angered the public.
In his first policy speech on Friday he promised to strengthen the country’s response to the pandemic in case of another resurgence and revive its battered economy, while also vowing to bolster defences against threats from China and North Korea.