Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has signaled his intention to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election, possibly as early as this month.

Abe wants to take advantage of a gradual improvement in support ratings for his administration as well as disarray in the main opposition Democratic Party.

However, he is also concerned about heightened tensions over North Korea's repeated missile launches, and may put off making a decision for a while yet.

Abe disclosed his intention to executives of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The earliest date for dissolving the Lower House would when an extraordinary Diet session starts Sept. 28, according to high-ranking administration officials.

They said that the prime minister views current circumstances as offering a timely opportunity to hold an election, although not all senior LDP members agree with him.

If Abe dissolves the Lower House at the start of the next Diet session, opposition parties are bound to accuse him of trying to conceal new disclosures in scandals involving school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution.

There is also concern about creating a political vacuum by dissolving the Lower House as tensions with North Korea remain high due to its ballistic missile launches and a nuclear test.

Abe is considering several candidate dates for dissolving the Lower House. If he does so Sept. 28, the official campaign period would likely start Oct. 10 or 17 with voting to be held Oct. 22 or 29, respectively.

Abe is also considering dissolving the chamber after U.S. President Donald Trump’s scheduled Nov. 4-6 visit to Japan, and a garden party to be hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Nov. 9.

Abe was initially planning to dissolve the Lower House immediately before the current term of Lower House members expires in December 2018.

Under that scenario, he planned to initiate his proposed revisions to the Constitution with the support of like-minded political parties, such as junior coalition partner Komeito and opposition party Nippon Ishin no Kai.

Abe took a step in that direction in May when he aired his plan to clarify the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces in pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution.

But the Abe administration's support rate began to dwindle due to railroading of anti-conspiracy legislation through the Diet and scandals involving the two school operators.

In July, the LDP suffered a humiliating defeat in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election.

The backlash has meant that Abe's cherished goal to revise the Constitution remains deadlocked. Komeito is also wary of moves to tinker with the Constitution.

The Democratic Party, meantime, is plagued with members leaving the party one after another. In addition, the future of new political entity affiliated with a regional party, Tomin First no Kai, effectively headed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, remains murky.

Now that the support rate for the Abe administration is becoming better following a Cabinet reshuffle in August, Abe is confident that the ruling parties will be able to maintain a majority in the Lower House with a snap election.