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Friday, Oct. 31, 2008

Economic mess arrived to trump election chance


Staff writer

Prime Minister Taro Aso announced his intention Thursday to postpone dissolving the Lower House and calling a snap election.

Ever since Aso became prime minister in September, speculation has been rife that a general election would be held before the year's end.

But Aso said he has made up his mind not to risk a dissolution of the lower chamber in the midst of the global financial crisis and the tumbling of stock prices worldwide.

"I believe the overwhelming majority of the public feel we should prioritize policies over politics, especially economic measures," Aso told reporters Thursday night.

Aso refused to specify when he plans to hold an election. The current term of the Lower House ends next September.

"I will decide when to dissolve (the Lower House) at the proper time," Aso simply said.

New Komeito, the Liberal Democratic Party's ruling coalition partner, had been a strong advocate for an early election, and Aso's decision to postpone an election could strain the partnership. But both Aso and New Komeito leader Akihiro Ota stressed that ties remain strong.

"The LDP and New Komeito have stuck together and will continue to do so, especially amid today's economic emergency situation — that is everything," Ota said.

Naoto Kan, deputy chief of the Democratic Party of Japan, criticized Aso's decision, saying, "In the end, Aso shuddered in fear of the results of the opinion poll and decided to postpone the dissolution. By doing so, I think he and his Cabinet will be placed in a hopeless position."



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