11/18/2014 05:36 am ET Updated Jan 18, 2015

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe To Call Snap Elections, Delay Sales Tax Increase

TOKYO, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he would delay a planned rise in the nation's sales tax to 10 percent till April 2017 and call a snap election to seek a fresh mandate, just two years after taking office.

The economy unexpectedly slipped into recession in the third quarter, data released on Monday showed, a sign the pain from an initial rise in the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent in April was lasting longer than expected.

Abe said he would dissolve parliament on Nov. 21.

No general election need be held until late 2016. But political insiders say Abe - who returned to power in December 2012 pledging to fix the economy with his "Abenomics" strategy of ultra-loose monetary policy, spending and reforms - wants to lock in his mandate while his ratings are relatively high and before tackling unpopular policies next year. (Reporting by Tokyo Newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson)