Election is likely to be held June 25

June 25 surfaced as the most likely date for a general election Sunday as Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s coalition allies and key Liberal Democratic Party politicians dropped hints throughout the day that a decision on the timing was fast approaching.

In Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, senior Liberal Democratic Party member Hidenao Nakagawa told a gathering that the prime minister was to make a final decision on the matter after the Golden Week holidays end May 7.

Prior to his decision, Mori is to meet on Wednesday with the leaders of the two other parties in the coalition — New Komeito and the New Conservative Party.

Nakagawa said Mori would then give thought to the matter during the holidays and make the decision after seeing how key bills currently being debated in the Diet are faring after Golden Week.

Meanwhile, New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki indicated during a speech in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, the same day that the election would probably be held June 25.

Kanzaki said, “We (coalition leaders) will make the final adjustment in our talks April 26. I think the dissolution of the House of Representatives, and hence a snap election, in late June is almost certain.”

Because Kanzaki had been using the phrase “the latter half of June” in earlier speeches, his remarks Sunday were taken by political pundits to suggest the election is likely to be held June 25, with official campaigning starting June 13. LDP sources had been mulling a poll date of either June 18 or 25. Elections must be held on a Sunday.

Mori has indicated that he would “sufficiently respect” New Komeito’s wishes regarding the timing of the polls, which must be held by Oct. 19, when the terms of the Lower House members expire.

Sure enough, later Sunday, Mori sent a telegram to a gathering organized by the LDP’s chapter in Ishikawa Prefecture that said that he was “deeply contemplating” the timing for the dissolution of the Lower House and that he would keep Kanzaki’s comments in mind when making the decision.

Senior LDP officials have said the Wednesday meeting is only for the purpose of affirming the cooperation of the other two parties in the course of the prime minister’s decision on when to hold the election.

Also on Sunday, a senior member of Mori’s LDP faction said a major reshuffling of the Cabinet would be necessary at the end of the year, given the fact that a major reorganization of the government’s ministries and agencies is to take effect in January.

This lawmaker also hinted that any touching up of the Cabinet after the general elections would be relatively minor, for key portfolios such as the foreign and finance ministers will remain unchanged as the Group of Eight summit to be held in Okinawa in July will be right around the corner.