With the Diet’s enactment of the fiscal 2009 budget and budget-related bills, the Aso administration has cleared one hurdle. The government is now intent on working out a supplementary budget for fiscal 2009 to further stimulate the economy. Prime Minister Taro Aso had said he would strive to execute measures that help revive the economy. As some of those measures are taking effect, Mr. Aso should seriously consider dissolving the Lower House.

Among the bills passed by the Diet are the taxation revision law, which includes a rider mentioning a possible consumption tax increase from fiscal 2011 and the revised employment insurance law to expand support for nonregular workers.

Since Lower House members’ terms expire Sept. 10, it is meaningless for Mr. Aso to remain vague about the timing of Lower House dissolution. Komeito, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, attaches importance to the July 12 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. It would be difficult for Mr. Aso to dissolve the Lower House at a time that’s inconvenient for Komeito. He also must take into account that a Group of Eight summit will be held in early July in Italy.

Mr. Aso could dissolve the Lower House earlier to avoid friction with Komeito, but he is eager to pursue additional economic stimulus measures. If enactment of the extra budget is taken up in the current Diet session, dissolution of the Lower House will be postponed. If that happens, the Diet should hold serious discussions not only on the extra budget but also on bills dealing with anti-piracy measures, establishment of a Consumer Agency, and the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps units from Okinawa to Guam. One option for Mr. Aso would be to submit the extra budget to the Diet, make clear when he plans to dissolve the Diet and get the opposition camp to agree on full Diet discussions and early passage of the extra budget and the bills.

Both Mr. Aso and the Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa suffer from low approval ratings. It is all the more important for each political party to present detailed and convincing election platforms so that voters can make an informed judgment.

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