Coalition to quickly pass extra budget

Kyodo News

Senior lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition agreed Tuesday to quickly enact the fiscal 2008 supplementary budget.

The move came after Prime Minister Taro Aso ordered Tadamori Oshima, chairman of the LDP’s Diet Affairs Committee, to launch Diet deliberations on the extra budget next week, given the financial turmoil in the wake of the U.S. Congress’ rejection of a $700 billion financial bailout package.

Speculation has now emerged that the general election, expected for Nov. 2, will be postponed to avoid a political vacuum amid the deepening of the global financial crisis.

The Diet session, convened Monday, is currently scheduled to run until Nov. 30.

Rumors had been rife that Aso would dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election before the Diet started deliberations on the supplementary budget.

Hiroyuki Hosoda, the LDP’s secretary general, emphasized that calming the uneasiness over the economy is the top priority of the government and the ruling coalition, suggesting the possibility that the general election might be put off.

“The prime minister will not accept a situation in which there are no lawmakers in the Diet following the dissolution (of the House of Representatives) and they are engaging in their election campaign,” Hosoda said.

“We need to do the utmost to resolve the turmoil immediately.”

There are still strong calls from within the ruling coalition for the prime minister to dissolve the Lower House on Friday, immediately after the question-and-answer session.

But an LDP lawmaker close to Aso said, “Voters will adopt a critical stance toward the ruling parties if we create a political vacuum when concerns over the financial crisis are growing.

“We need to tackle the economy. It is not the time for an election,” the lawmaker said.

Earlier in the day, during a meeting with Yoshio Urushibara of New Komeito, Oshima stressed the necessity of enacting the extra budget.