Why would a government with a comfortable two-thirds majority and two years of its term remaining opt for a snap election, ostensibly to secure a "mandate" to avoid implementing a highly unpopular tax increase?
To observers in Australia, a country that despite -- or, more accurately, because of -- the rise of China remains closely tied to the prosperity of Japan for trade, investment, tourism and security, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to go to the polls on 14 December presents an intriguing and worrying puzzle.
Is this another episode of shirking the hard reforms that are nearly universally regarded as necessary to lift Japan out of two decades of persistent economic stagnation and deflation?
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