Thursday, November 15, 2012

Noda Calls For December 16 Elections


DPJ unseated by LDP landslide.  Shinzo Abe new Prime Minister

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Wednesday that he will dissolve the Diet on Friday and call a general election on Dec 16.
Noda’s pledge, made after a heated parliamentary exchange with Liberal Democratic Party chief Shinzo Abe, drew protests from some lawmakers within his own party who are not keen to face a vote at a time when the economy is ailing and public approval ratings for Noda’s cabinet have fallen below 20%.
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) deputy party secretary general Jun Azumi told broadcaster NHK that the country would be going to the polls on Dec 16.
“We will quickly draft our campaign platform, as the official campaign will start on Dec 4,” Azumi said, referring to the start of a 12-day period that will come ahead of polling day.
Azumi’s confirmation came after a showdown in the Diet between Noda and Abe in which Noda said he would dissolve the house on Friday if he got pledges on electoral reform.
Abe, a former prime minister and recently re-elected leader of the LDP, said later in the day: “I will fully cooperate with Prime Minister Noda’s proposal.”
LDP secretary general Shigeru Ishiba told reporters that senior party officials “had decided to cooperate, taking seriously the prime minister’s comment”, Jiji Press said.
A promise on electoral reform was one of the conditions Noda has publicly set in order to call an election.
The passage of legislation that will allow the government to borrow more money and pay bills that fall due this financial year was another.
Agreement on that issue was reached Tuesday.
Azumi told NHK that Noda had put country before party in working out the timing of the ballot.
“It is not a schedule that benefits our party. But the prime minister made his decision, thinking of the national interest first,” he said.
“There was tense opposition in our party against parliamentary dissolution. We must be strong. Unless we stay strong, changes of the government cannot happen in the future.”
Opinion polls in recent months have made dismal reading for Noda, with public support leeching away from his fragmenting party.
The DPJ came to power in 2009 on a wave of optimism, sweeping the long-ruling LDP aside, but has suffered in office from policy flip-flops and weak leadership.
The party is thought likely to come off badly in an election, with voters angry about Noda’s pet legislative achievement: the doubling of sales tax over the next few years.
But the LDP, a largely conservative party that nonetheless has a diverse parliamentary membership, has been unable to capitalise on the DPJ’s unpopularity.
Most observers say the signs point to an election without a clear result and say a field of recently-sprouted smaller parties is likely to lead to a messy coalition.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Shinzo Abe Says LDP Wants Bond Talks

The Liberal Democratic Party is ready to accept Diet talks on a crucial deficit-covering bond bill, Shinzo Abe, president of the main opposition party, said Thursday.
Abe thus signaled an effective change in the stance of the LDP, which has been demanding the Diet first hold budget committee meetings before discussing the deficit bond bill.
The bill is designed to allow the government to issue deficit-covering bonds to finance the budget for fiscal 2012.
"I don't mind if talks [on the bond bill] begin while the prime minister is away," Abe said in a street speech in Tokyo. "I don't mind discussing details of the bill."
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is scheduled to visit Laos for four days from Sunday to attend a summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting, or ASEM.
Abe said the LDP also hopes members of a planned national council on social security reforms will be selected soon. The LDP will actively tackle issues Noda has specified as conditions for calling a general election for the House of Representatives, he said.
The LDP and the other major opposition party, New Komeito, have been pressing Noda to dissolve the lower house for a snap election by the end of this year.

Noda looks for extra budget in January

Meanwhile, Noda indicated his intention Thursday to give up submitting a fiscal 2012 supplementary budget during the ongoing extraordinary Diet session, instead aiming for its enactment at the beginning of an ordinary session starting in January.
The government "will consider the timing and content of the extra budget based on progress in deliberations on a deficit-covering bond bill and the content of new economic stimulus measures," Noda said at a lower house plenary meeting, replying to a question from a senior member of New Komeito.
The remark by Noda appeared certain to provoke a backlash from opposition parties urging the prime minister to dissolve the lower house of the Diet for an election by the end of December.
After adopting additional economic measures in late November, the government is expected to draw up the extra budget in December. In mid-December, it will begin compiling the fiscal 2013 budget.
Such schedules make it difficult for the Diet to handle the extra budget during the current session even if it is extended beyond its scheduled Nov. 30 end.
At the lower house meeting, Noda called on the LDP and New Komeito to cooperate to enact the extra budget. "For an early exit from deflation as well as to boost the economy, I hope that the ruling and opposition parties will not hesitate to discuss the challenges our country faces, including the deficit-covering bond bill for fiscal 2012," he said.
The bill is needed to fully implement the budget for the year ending in March.