Japan’s sixth new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of parliament on Friday for an election next month, in a political gamble widely expected to strip his centre-left party of power.
The dissolution itself was a brief affair, with the lower house speaker reading a short promulgation prepared by the premier and endorsed by Emperor Akihito, the constitutional head of state. An extraordinary meeting of the cabinet was to be held later Friday, at which December 16 is expected to be formally announced as election day. Noda has been under pressure to call elections for months and offered dissolution of the main decision-making chamber in a parliamentary debate earlier this week. Noda’s own Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is anything but united on the need for an election on December 16. Poor poll numbers, voter disillusionment, increasing tensions with China, the slow pace of recovery from the tsunami of March 2011 and a plodding economy mean many in the DPJ fear for their seats. Having had almost two-thirds of the 480 lower house seats when they came to power in 2009, the party had lost its majority by Friday morning. Commentators say no single party will have the numbers to govern alone after the election, with an untidy coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and smaller fringe parties seen as a likely outcome.AFP