TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will decide on the timing of a snap general election after he returns on Friday from a trip this week to address the United Nations.
"Regarding the dissolution of the lower house, I would like to refrain from commenting on every question, but I would like to make a decision when I return home," Abe told reporters on Monday as he left for New York, according to a Foreign Ministry transcript.
Abe is considering calling a general election, the third since he swept to power in December 2012, as early as Oct. 22, to take advantage of a rebound in his approval ratings after a series of scandals for this coalition government, and disarray in the main opposition party, government and ruling party sources told Reuters on Sunday.
Abe is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly and the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, and is seeking to arrange meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in before returning to Japan on Friday.
An early vote would take advantage of defections in opposition Democratic Party and could also dilute a potential challenge from an embryonic party that allies of popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, an ex-LDP lawmaker, are trying to form.
Abe's coalition would be likely to lose its two-thirds "super majority" in the lower house but keep a simple majority, political sources say.
(Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Kim Coghill)