Foes: Noda vow to call poll 'soon' not soon enough

by Natsuko Fukue

Staff Writer

Opposition parties pressed Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda again Thursday to immediately dissolve the Lower House for a snap election, but he snubbed their demands, saying he will do so based on his own judgement.

“It is common sense that when (Noda) says he is dissolving the Lower House soon, it means he will do so at least by the end of the year,” New Komeito Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue said on the second day of the televised Lower House plenary session.

In August, when the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito agreed with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which Noda heads, to cooperate on his social security and tax reforms, he promised their leaders he would dissolve the Lower House “soon.”

LDP and New Komeito want the Lower House dissolved by early December.

“Now is the time for you to make a brave decision and move politics forward,” Inoue said.

But Noda only said he will “make the decision when requirements are fulfilled,” including passing the special bill to issue deficit-covering bonds and the electoral reform bill to start to fix the vote-value disparities in the Lower House, as well as reducing the number of Diet seats and launching a national council on social security reform.

The bond bill is necessary to cover about 40 percent of the fiscal 2012 budget. The electoral reform bill is needed to rectify vote-value gaps after the Supreme Court ruled last year that disparities in the 2009 Lower House election — in which the DPJ beat the LDP and took over the government — were in “a state of unconstitutionality,” although the ruling didn’t nullify the poll outcome.

Thursday’s session also marked the first Diet bickering for the newly launched Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) led by outspoken Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. The party is widely seen as a key factor in shaking up political alliances after the next Lower House election.

The party’s deputy chief, former DPJ member Yorihisa Matsuno, said Nippon Ishin no Kai will cooperate on the bond bill.