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The Lower House Steering Committee said Thursday it will hold a plenary session of the chamber at 1 p.m. today to vote on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori submitted by the opposition Wednesday.

However, Diet sources said Mori will dissolve the Lower House for general elections before the vote is taken. An extraordinary Cabinet meeting will be held after the dissolution to officially set the date of the polls at June 25, with campaigning to formally start June 13.

Four opposition parties — the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party — submitted the no-confidence motion, which said Mori is not qualified for the position after his controversial remarks that Japan was “a divine nation with the Emperor at its center.”

Diet affairs chiefs of the four parties said they believe Mori’s public credibility will be damaged by the no-confidence motion, even in the absence of a vote.

Pre-election retirees

Liberal Democratic Party veteran and former Lower House speaker Yoshio Sakurauchi announced his retirement from politics Thursday, prompted by the LDP’s decision to not list him as a proportional representation candidate in the upcoming general election.

Sakurauchi, 88, told reporters he respects the party’s decision to remove him from the candidate list for the Chugoku bloc of the proportional representation contest, despite his wish to run in the election.

His retirement is prompted by the LDP’s newly adopted rule that lawmakers vying for proportional representation seats should retire at 73, with the exception of some who have made major contributions to the party.

Also set to retire is Saburo Tsukamoto, former chairman of the now-defunct Democratic Socialist Party. Political sources said he will not run in the general election.

Tsukamoto, 73, entered politics in 1958 and was elected to the House of Representatives 10 times. He became DSP leader in 1985 and resigned in 1989 over his involvement in the Recruit stocks-for-favors scandal.

Tsukamoto failed in his bid to return to the Diet in the 1993 Lower House election on a DSP ticket and again in the 1996 general election on the ticket of the LDP.

He had been expected to run in the June 25 election on an LDP ticket via proportional representation from the Tokai bloc, the sources said.

The DSP was assimilated in 1994 into the opposition Shinshinto, which dissolved in 1997.