Japan’s lower house of parliament was dissolved on Friday ahead of a general election on December 16 expected to result in a change of government.
Lower house speaker Takahiro Yokomichi told parliament: “According to clause seven of Japan’s constitution, the lower house is dissolved.”
The promulgation was prepared by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, and endorsed by Emperor Akihito before being read to a packed chamber.
An extraordinary meeting of the cabinet was to be held later Friday, at which the timing of the polls will be formalised.
The official campaign period is expected to begin on December 4.
Voters are likely to punish Noda’s fractured Democratic Party of Japan for what is seen as an underwhelming three years in power, marked by policy flip-flops and weak leadership.
Noda is the third prime minister since the DPJ beat the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party in 2009, and the sixth in as many years, in a largely reactive political landscape dominated by factions and overshadowed by Japan’s powerful bureaucracy.