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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fukuda again rules out snap election, new Cabinet lineup

Staff writer

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Monday once again rejected opposition calls for him to dissolve the Lower House and hold a snap general election in the near future.

"I ask myself all the time whether now is the time to dissolve (the Lower House) when there are piles of policy issues" that need to be taken care of, Fukuda told a news conference to mark the end of the regular Diet session.

"I believe my responsibility is to implement the policies and do things that will give the public hope, and not cause trouble for them," he said.

Fukuda also brushed aside speculation he may reshuffle his Cabinet immediately after hosting the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido next month, saying no decision has been made on the matter.

Fukuda stressed that all ministers are in the middle of executing policies and that he will only consider a reshuffle after comprehensively evaluating their work.

Analysts say that after the G8 summit, Fukuda's attention will focus mainly on tax reform, especially on whether to raise the consumption tax rate.

Last week, Fukuda said in a meeting with major news agencies from the G8 nations that while Japan has a large budget deficit, it maintains the consumption tax rate at a low 5 percent.

"We are at a very important juncture where we have to make up our mind in that respect," he said — a remark taken as indicating he may consider a consumption tax hike in the near future.

But on Monday he softened his stance, stressing that he was discussing the issue in a longer-term context.

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The Japan Times

Article 5 of 10 in National news

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