• Kyodo


Liberal Democratic Party chief Shinzo Abe indicated Monday for the first time that his party may stop pressing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to dissolve the Lower House and hold an election by the end of the year, and will instead cooperate to get Noda’s deficit-covering bond bill passed.

“Unless we hurry up, the government will fall behind in its payments, so we believe” the bill’s passage should be “separate” from the Lower House dissolution, Abe said on a TV program.

His remarks suggest the LDP is seeking to create an environment where the main opposition party’s cooperation with Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan-led government to secure passage of key bills will nonetheless ultimately force Noda to dissolve the Lower House.

Abe said last week that the LDP will join Diet deliberations on the bill to allow the government to issue deficit-covering bonds to finance the regular budget for fiscal 2012 through next March.

The bill’s passage is considered necessary during the current session, which is expected to run through Nov. 30. The Finance Ministry has warned that the government will run out of money by late November if the bill isn’t passed.

Abe earlier said the LDP would not work with the government on the bill unless Noda vowed to call a general election by the end of December.

Opposition support is required for Noda to secure the passage of any bill in the currently divided Diet, where the DPJ-led coalition lacks a majority in the Upper House.

Abe said on the TV program it would be desirable for Noda to dissolve the Lower House by Nov. 22 and call a general election for Dec. 16 at the latest. He has argued that if an election comes later, the new government would not be able to finalize its budget proposals for fiscal 2013 within this year.

Noda is delaying the dissolution as long as possible because public support for his Cabinet has fallen below 20 percent, due in part to the passage — with LDP support — of his key bill to double the 5 percent consumption tax by 2015.

A Kyodo News opinion poll showed Sunday that the latest public support rate for Noda’s Cabinet is at 17.7 percent, its lowest ever and down from 29.2 percent in October, while the disapproval rate stood at 66.1 percent.

Azuma Koshiishi, the No. 2 man in the DPJ, voiced a negative view Sunday regarding any Lower House dissolution by year’s end. “We are not . . . assuming that a general election would be held on Dec. 9 or 16.”

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