Japan PM hints at elections in November: Kyodo

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2012 2:36 PM
Japan PM hints at elections in November: Kyodo

(Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has indicated to the head of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that he plans to hold a general election in early November, Kyodo news agency reported, quoting senior opposition lawmakers.

Noda needed opposition support this month to save a hard-fought deal to double Japan's broad sales tax by 2015 and had to pledge in return to hold a general election "soon".

Analysts say Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which surged to power in 2009 pledging to change how Japan is governed, looks set to lose that election, spelling more policy confusion as Japan grapples with a stagnant economy, rocky ties with China and South Korea, and declining global competitiveness.

Kyodo gave no further details in its initial brief report of Noda's discussions with opposition lawmakers.

It's just three years since the DPJ, a mix of conservatives, center-left lawmakers and ex-socialists, rode to power on a backlash against more than 50 years of almost non-stop LDP rule. The Democrats then descended quickly into infighting, with Noda being the party's third prime minister in three years.

The Democratic party now faces a similar backlash over broken promises, a confused response to last year's tsunami and nuclear crisis and Noda's embrace of unpopular causes such as the tax hike and the restart of nuclear reactors.

Noda's push to bring the tax to 10 percent by 2015 was billed as a test of Japan's resolve to tackle its snowballing debt that tops two years' worth of its economic output, a record among industrialized nations.

(Reporting by Avik Das in Bangalore; Writing by Rodney Joyce; Editing by Supriya Kurane and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)