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The political environment has become increasingly harsh for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, with the focus on whether he will soon dissolve the Lower House for a snap election to achieve his prized policy goal of raising the consumption tax.

Only six months have passed since Noda assumed office Sept. 2, but the outlook for his administration is gloomy. The Cabinet’s approval ratings have been plummeting and many lawmakers, including members of his Democratic Party of Japan, are opposed to the planned tax hike.

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