Noda: Poll not hostage to vote-value disparity

JIJI

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Monday he retains the right to dissolve the House of Representatives and can call a snap election even though the unconstitutional vote gap disparity in the chamber has not been corrected.

At a special Lower House committee deliberating seven bills related to social security and tax reforms, Noda said that correcting the vote-value disparity is a matter of “utmost priority.”

But even before it is rectified, “the right of dissolution is not restricted,” he emphasized. His remarks came in response to a question from Nobuteru Ishihara, secretary general of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, an opposition force that has been repeatedly demanding the dissolution of the Lower House for a snap election.

Noda is under pressure from the major opposition parties to dissolve the chamber soon and seek a voter mandate for a consumption tax hike, the centerpiece of his Democratic Party of Japan-led government’s broader social security and tax system reform initiative.

Ishihara sought Noda’s response after Azuma Koshiishi, secretary general of the DPJ, said Noda may be unable to dissolve the Lower House before addressing the vote-value disparity, which is more than two times for single-seat constituencies, a gap judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in March 2011.

“A Lower House dissolution is not a matter to be decided by public discussion,” Noda said. It should basically be decided in my mind and carried out when it is needed.”