Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is apparently intent on calling a snap election, a decision that would serve nothing but his own interest.

It appears that the election will be held Oct. 22, with official campaigning to start on Oct. 10. He is expected to dissolve the Lower House on Sept. 28, the day the Diet is scheduled to convene for an extraordinary session.

Let us stress that it was back in June that opposition parties demanded an early convocation of an extraordinary Diet session, in keeping with Article 53 of the Constitution. But the Abe administration ignored the request for a full three months. And just as the session is about to begin at long last, Abe is wiping out any chance for opposition parties to challenge him in the Diet.

If this does not constitute contempt of the Diet, what does? And not only that, Abe is also marginalizing the Constitution itself.

After reshuffling his Cabinet in August, Abe said he wanted to draw up legislation for work style reform and other matters before setting the timetable for an extraordinary Diet session.

But dissolving the Lower House will bump the work style reform--his pet policy--to the back burner. Many members of his Cabinet, which he touts as a team of committed professionals, have hardly done any work yet. The only noticeable action taken so far was to hold the first--and only--meeting of the Council on the Vision for an Era of 100-Year Lifespans, a task force created by the Abe administration.

Abe has indicated to senior officials of his Liberal Democratic Party a draft campaign platform for the upcoming Lower House election.

The consumption tax rate will be raised in autumn 2019 as scheduled, but instead of the original plan to allocate the bulk of the increased tax revenue to covering fiscal deficits, the consumption tax revenue will be used to fund Abe's pet policy of "revolutionizing" human resources development by providing free education, among other things.

But the ruling coalition has not even debated the proposed review of the use of the consumption tax revenue. The proposal almost echoes an argument presented by Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara, and this suggests that Abe is plotting to make this a non-issue in the upcoming election. In any case, the matter cannot be considered a salient enough election issue for the voting public at present.

Another thing we have even more trouble comprehending is the decision to pour the ruling coalition’s energy into an election just when the North Korean situation is becoming ever more tense.

Within the LDP, there are loud calls for revising the Constitution to better deal with emergencies and natural disasters by adding an emergency clause and creating a special provision to extend the term of office of Lower House lawmakers.

And yet, dissolving the Lower House will effectively turn all lawmakers into absentees while they conduct their own election campaigns. This simply makes no logical sense at this point. We are appalled by the Abe administration's self-serving opportunism.

The ruling coalition commands an overwhelming majority in the Diet, which enables it to pass budget proposals and other bills. And in the absence of any policy issue that requires the voting public's immediate judgment, there is no justification for holding a Lower House election now.

Why is Abe rushing into dissolving the Lower House? The only conclusion we can draw--and with total confidence--is that he is determined to weasel out of the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution scandals, to which he and his wife have been linked.

Will he still go ahead with this arbitrary action? If so, Abe will go down in history for setting a dishonorable precedent as a prime minister who took the liberty to "own" the right to dissolve the Lower House for no other reason than to protect himself.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 20