Japan PM set to dissolve lower house for election

Japan is set to dissolve parliament's lower house today for a December 16th election. 

Observers say the election is likely to return the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party or LDP to power with a conservative former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, at the helm. 

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Japan's sixth prime minister in six years and the third since the Democratic Party of Japan's landslide election win, said earlier this week that he would call the election for next month. 

He had promised this in exchange for opposition support for his pet policy to double the sales tax by 2015 to curb massive public debt. 

Japanese media said Mr Noda's cabinet approved the dissolution this morning, ahead of the formal announcement by the speaker of the house later in the day.

The LDP looks likely to win the most seats in parliament's 480-member lower house. 

But a lack of voter enthusiasm makes it uncertain whether the party and its former junior partner, the New Komeito party, can win a majority.