Seiji Maehara

Japan's Abe faces new challenge as he calls snap election

A surge of popularity for a freshly minted opposition party in Japan is making Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to call a snap election look riskier than initially thought.

Abe dissolved the lower house of parliament Thursday, setting the stage for an Oct. 22 vote.

The Party of Hope, launched earlier this week by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, may not dethrone Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party but analysts say it could put a dent in the LDP's majority. A major setback could derail Abe's presumed hope to extend his rule for three more years at a party leadership meeting next year.

Minutes after the lower house dissolution, Abe made a fiery speech to party members. He...