Speculation is rising that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will dissolve the House of Representatives as early as October now that the ruling coalition has basically agreed to hold an extraordinary Diet session in mid-September.
Having an extraordinary session under this time-frame makes it more likely for the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election to be pushed forward to early September or even late August, as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s term as the LDP head expires on Sept. 30.
“Usually, the LDP’s presidential election comes before an extraordinary session starts. If that’s the case, we will have to discuss (the timing of the LDP’s election) with the party,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Friday.
Koizumi, confident of re-election as party head, has said he will reshuffle his Cabinet immediately after the poll.
An extraordinary Diet session will then be called to deliberate and pass a bill to extend the 2001 antiterrorism law, hopefully by early October. The law expires Nov. 1.
After the law’s passage, Koizumi will be free to dissolve the Lower House and call a snap election at any time. And since he still retains certain amoupublic support and has a firm grip on control of the party, an early election would be best.
Fukuda gave his backing to such a scenario, although he stressed that nothing has been decided about the exact timing of the dissolution of the Lower House.
“If we do not hold an extraordinary session in mid-September, we will not have enough time to deliberate the bill on extending the antiterrorism law,” he told a regularly scheduled news conference.
Koizumi also told reporters: “Everyone is interested in the dissolution now that their terms are less than a year.”
On Thursday night, New Komeito requested that the extraordinary session be held in mid-September during a meeting of the coalition leaders. of the three ruling parties. Koizumi showed understanding for such an idea, according to ruling party officials.
New Komeito wants to avoid a Lower House election held simultaneously with the scheduled Upper House election in summer.
A general election must be held by June, when Lower House members’ four-year terms expire.
LDP lawmakers critical of Koizumi, meanwhile, bashed ruling party leaders discussing the timing of the extraordinary session.
“We are still in the current session. To talk about holding an extraordinary session in mid-September is imprudent,” said Hiromu Nonaka, former secretary general of the LDP.
Nonaka also reportedly said he does not think the LDP’s poll can be pushed forward so easily because the party rule states that the presidential election must be held within 10 days of Sept. 30, the day the president’s term expires.
But if the LDP agrees on pushing forward the presidential poll, Koizumi may dissolve the Lower House before Oct. 26, when Lower House by-elections are scheduled to be held. By-elections will not be held if the Lower House is dissolved before that date.