Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in a recent telephone conversation with a senior opposition member that he plans to dissolve the House of Representatives in October, prompting a snap election, people close to the matter said.
Noda said that whoever the DPJ’s next chief turns out to be in the presidential election in September will have to step down within a month or two if the party takes a big hit in the general election as he expects, the sources said.
This suggests that Noda is looking at calling the snap election shortly after the presidential race, which will be held on Sept. 21.
Noda’s remark emerged in talks with the conservative Liberal Democratic Party about supporting his pet tax hike legislation during the vote in the House of Councilors, which the opposition controls. The legislation cleared the upper chamber Friday.
In a pivotal meeting Wednesday with leaders from the LDP and Buddhist ally New Komeito, Noda promised to dissolve the Lower House “sometime soon” in exchange for support on the tax bill. A row has since erupted over the exact meaning of those two words.
Noda said in a phone call before the meeting that he is determined to be re-elected DPJ president and to take responsibility for the fledgling party’s defeat by resigning, the sources said.
Noda’s Cabinet has been slipping in the opinion polls and remained below 30 percent approval in a recent survey by Kyodo News.
Earlier Saturday, Nobuteru Ishihara, secretary general of the LDP, said he believes that Noda is thinking of dissolving the powerful Lower House in October.
On a TV program, Ishihara said that he will still try to pressure Noda into calling a general election as soon as possible and that his party will try to create a situation in which the prime minster has to dissolve the chamber before the Diet closes on Sept. 8.
The fledging political group led by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has at least 68 members of the municipal assembly enrolled in its candidate training program for the next general election, it was learned Saturday.
The members, who hail from 27 of the 47 prefectures, might allow Hashimoto’s group, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), to challenge the major parties in the national election.
Slightly over 20 of them are interested in running for the Diet, and most of the others are hoping to bolster its election campaign beyond Osaka, group officials said. The training school was set up in March.
The assembly members are just some of the 880 or so people in the training program, called Ishin Seiji Juku (restoration political institute), who are attempting to become candidates for the race.
The assembly members include several people who bolted the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the opposition-leading Liberal Democratic Party soon after the training school was established.