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.