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After endorsing Prime Minister Taro Aso’s decision Tuesday to call the general election Aug. 30, Cabinet ministers predicted a tough battle, with some even criticizing Aso and his leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party over the dire prospects.

Transport minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko said the first Lower House election in almost four years couldn’t be timed worse, and popular welfare minister Yoichi Masuzoe pointed his finger at top LDP executives.

“There have been several occasions on which we would have won for sure. This is the worst situation in terms of political timing,” Kaneko, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, said at a news conference.

Masuzoe, minister of health, labor and welfare, in another news conference criticized LDP Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda and policy chief Kosuke Hori by name and said, “The leadership lacks governance.”

Embattled by low public support, Aso dissolved the Lower House after foes within the LDP spent last week in a failed attempt to replace him with a new leader to help revive the party.

The election will determine whether the LDP-New Komeito ruling coalition can remain in power or whether the Democratic Party of Japan can end the LDP’s almost uninterrupted rule in postwar Japan, with many analysts predicting at least a major setback for the LDP.

Key bills during this Diet session

Passed

• Revised National Pension Law
• Taxation Revision Law
• Antipiracy Law
• Consumer Agency Law
• Revised Child-care and Family-care Leave Law
• Document Preservation Law
• Revised Organ Transplant Law
• New Minamata Relief Law

Scrapped

• North Korean cargo inspection bill
• Civil servant system amendment bill
• Employee pension unification bill
• Bill to amend Worker Dispatch Law
• Bill to amend Disabled Peoples Support Law
• Bill to amend Public Office Election Law
• Bill to amend Child Prostitution and Child Pornography Control Law
• Capital market crisis management bill

Administrative reform minister Akira Amari said each candidate’s mettle will be tested in the campaign, and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said he hopes to engage in the battle without worrying about the low public support for the LDP and the Cabinet.

“It is certainly an election in which the ability to hold the reins of government will be called into question,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said.

Economic and fiscal policy minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, “We have to reflect on the impression being given that there is trouble inside (the LDP).”

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