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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Aso urged to call election after budget

Staff writer

Prime Minister Taro Aso should call a snap election in May after an extra budget for fiscal 2009 is passed to break the current political stalemate caused by a divided Diet, former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa advised Wednesday.

"The world is rapidly changing and Japan cannot remain in this deadlock forever," Nakagawa said in a speech at the Japan National Press Club in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. "I call on Prime Minister Aso to make the decision to dissolve the Lower House and call an election this spring, in May for example, to seek the judgment of the people and break free from this political stalemate."

Amid the ongoing global financial crisis, the government and the LDP-New Komeito ruling bloc are set to draft a rare extra budget for fiscal 2009 this spring. It is unusual for the Diet to pass an extra budget during the first half of the fiscal year.

Some political insiders, noting that it will take time to enact the extra budget, do not foresee an election until summer at the earliest. Nakagawa, however, said he believes it is "possible" to get Diet approval within a month by seeking the cooperation of the Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties.

Saddled with a plunging support from virtually the moment he took office in September, Aso has refrained from calling an election. Verbal gaffes and policy flip-flops have further battered his public support and increased calls from within the LDP for a new leader.

Meanwhile, the DPJ, the LDP's biggest rival, was recently dealt an unexpected blow with the indictment of party President Ichiro Ozawa's chief secretary, who is suspected of accepting illegal donations. After Ozawa announced Tuesday that he would stay at his post, some members expressed concern about the impact on the DPJ's chances in the next election.

Nakagawa criticized both sides for focusing on leadership changes as a means to achieve an election win.

"What is most important is to firmly uphold (policies) that we would implement if we win the election," Nakagawa said.

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The Japan Times

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