TOKYO, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continued to evade questions on favoritism scandals during a televised debate among political party heads on Sunday, evoking a new round of questions from the opposition parties on his true purpose for calling a snap election.
"What's the true reason for the prime minister to dissolve the lower house of parliament? Abe has never given a convincing explanation. He said it was for dealing with the crisis caused by the population aging and low birth rate as well as the North Korean crisis. But these are not true," said Japanese Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii.
He added that the true reason for Abe to call the election was only to cover up the favoritism scandals implicating the prime minister.
Tadatomo Yoshida, head of the Social Democratic Party, said that many people believed that the Abe administration failed to give sufficient explanations for the favoritism scandals, and the most important reason was that some scandal-involved key figures refused to speak in the parliament.
He called for the prime minister to summon his wife Akie Abe and close friend Kotaro Kake to answer questions in the parliament.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who heads the newly-established Party of Hope, questioned the Abe administration on information disclosure and document management, as well as the prime minister's economic policies.
"Basically, our major goal is to change the current political situation, where Abe alone is strong," she said.
Abe has been under fire for his connection with nationalist private school operator Moritomo Gakuen, which purchased a piece of state-owned land in Osaka for only a fraction of market price.
He has also been accused of using his influence to make the government choose Kake Educational Institution, run by one of his close friends, to open a new department in a government-designated special economic zone.
Previously, the prime minister cited the need to seek a fresh mandate to overcome "a national crisis" caused by "the biggest challenge facing Japan, which is the population aging and low birthrate," as well as security challenges, when announcing his plan last month to call for the snap election.
According to a recent survey conducted by Japan's public broadcaster NHK, support rate for Abe's cabinet dropped to 37 percent, down by 7 percentage point from the previous month, while the disapproval rate increased to 44 percent.
Meanwhile, 67 percent of the respondents said they did not support the prime minister's plan to call a snap election.
The election is slated for Oct. 22, with the official campaigning beginning on Oct. 10.