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Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008
Hosoda revives call to hold early election
By MASAMI ITO
A Lower House election should be held as soon as possible to break the political standstill created by the divided Diet, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda said Tuesday.
During a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Hosoda said the LDP-New Komeito ruling bloc has been troubled by a lack of bipartisanship with the opposition, which controls the Upper House, that has resulted in the blockage of key legislation and budgets.
"We are at a hectic time amid international problems, and some say we should implement budgets and policies without dissolving the Lower House," Hosoda said.
"But we won't be able to push our policies forward without their passage," he said, arguing the chamber should be quickly dissolved to call an election.
"And I have heard from Aso that he thinks if the LDP-New Komeito can collect a majority, that is the best way to break free from this political deadlock."
The ruling coalition holds a 70 percent majority in the Lower House thanks to the strong popularity of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who called the last general election in September 2005. But the support rate for the Cabinet has been dropping ever since, and critics say the ruling bloc is sure to lose seats in the next election, and possibility even the majority.
Even Hosoda, the party's No. 2 man after Prime Minister Taro Aso, has settled for the minimum goal in the next election — a simple majority in the 480-seat Lower House.
"We saw a landslide victory three years ago, but that is too many seats — we won't be able to win as much" in the next election, he said. "Our hope is to keep a majority by adding the seats of the LDP and New Komeito together . . . that may be a big drop, but our minimum goal is to stop there."
In response to the LDP's "chronic unpopularity," Hosoda asserted that the polls indicate Aso is still much more popular as a leader than Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa, the leader of the opposition.