Japan to hold general election on December 16
TOKYO: Japan will hold a general election on December 16, a senior governing party official confirmed Wednesday, putting an end to months of speculation over the date of polls.
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) deputy party secretary general Jun Azumi told broadcaster NHK that the country would be going to the polls next month. “We will quickly draft our campaign platform, as the official campaign will start on December 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 parliament between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and opposition leader Shinzo Abe in which the premier said he would dissolve the house on November 16 if he got pledges on electoral reform.
Abe, a former prime minister and recently re-elected leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) stalled during the debate, but said later in the day: “I will fully cooperate in 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. afp