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Politics

Abe confident, but snap votes don't always follow the script

Lawmakers shout "banzai" (cheers) after the dissolution of the lower house was announced Friday afternoon.

TOKYO -- Lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition camps were caught off guard by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to dissolve the lower house of parliament Friday and schedule a general election for Dec. 14.

     Abe says he is seeking a public mandate for his decision to delay by 18 months a planned hike in the consumption tax. It is also clear he wants to reinforce his power base, which has been weakened by the resignations of two members of his cabinet over money scandals.

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