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PRAGUE (Kyodo) Prime Minister Taro Aso suggested Sunday a general election could be held around the time of the July 12 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, although New Komeito, the coalition partner of Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party, does not want a poll then.

“If asked which should take precedence — the Lower House election or the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly poll — then it is the Lower House election,” Aso said here.

New Komeito has insisted the general election should not take place around the time of the metro poll as it wants to concentrate its efforts on the local election. Tokyo is the major power base for the party, which is backed by Soka Gakkai, an influential lay Buddhist organization.

Aso said national security could be one focal issue of the general election, blasting a suggestion by Ichiro Ozawa, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, that the U.S. 7th Fleet would be enough to secure the U.S. presence in and around Japan.

Tax reforms, including a consumption tax hike, could be another focus of the race, he said, arguing his LDP is more responsible than other parties and would ask the public to shoulder a bigger burden to cover rising social security costs.

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