The speaker of the house, Tadamori Oshima, read the statement of dissolution.
Abe is widely seen as trying to reconsolidate his grip on power within the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party, so he can extend the term of his premiership next year. The dissolution of the more powerful of Japan's two-chamber parliament comes more than a year before required by law.
The ruling party, though, faces a growing challenge from a new party launched by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike this week. The Party of Hope has energized some voters, and is gaining renegade lawmakers from the main opposition party.