Tokyo: Japan appeared headed for an election this year when the prime minister said he would dissolve parliament Friday to hold a poll if his opponents agree to help reform the electoral system.
“I will dissolve the parliament on November 16” if the Liberal Democratic Party promises to cooperate on slashing the number of seats in the lower house, Yoshihiko Noda said Wednesday in a one-on-one debate with LDP president Shinzo Abe.
In a speech delivered later Wednesday, Abe said: “I will fully cooperate in Prime Minister Noda’s proposal.”
LDP secretary general Shigeru Ishiba told reporters senior party officials “had decided to cooperate, taking seriously the prime minister’s comment”, Jiji Press said.
Japan will hold a general election on 16 December , a senior governing party official confirmed Wednesday hours after the prime minister offered to dissolve parliament.
Asked by a journalist on state broadcaster NHK if the country would be going to the polls on that Sunday following a 12-day official campaigning period, Democratic Party of Japan deputy party secretary general Jun Azumi nodded.
Under Japanese law an election must be held within 40 days of parliament’s dissolution, but can be sooner.
The official campaigning period lasts just 12 days.
Earlier this year Noda promised to call an election “in the near future” in return for the opposition’s votes on legislation to raise the sales tax, but he has since has been under pressure to clarify the date of the vote.
Noda is widely expected to face an uphill battle to get his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) re-elected amid widespread voter disillusionment with its record in the three years since it ousted the long-ruling LDP.
An election defeat would mean Noda, who took office in September 2011, would become the sixth successive Japanese leader to leave the prime minister’s residence after spending roughly a year in office.
His predecessors in the current parliament, Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan, both resigned amid low approval ratings and power struggles within the DPJ.
With a short election cycle and fickle public opinion, Japan has changed leaders almost annually since Junichiro Koizumi, who led the nation for more than five years to September 2006.