Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda agreed on Aug. 8 with leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito to dissolve the Lower House and hold an election "before long" after the Diet passed bills on the consumption tax increase.
“I agreed (with them) that after the passage of the consumption tax increase bills through the Diet, I will seek the verdict of voters before long (through the Lower House election),” Noda told reporters after a meeting with LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki and New Komeito representative Natsuo Yamaguchi.
However, the timing of what “before long” means is unclear. Therefore, there is a possibility that Noda and the two opposition leaders have different interpretations and expectations.
The vague wording could raise opposition against party leaders both in Noda's ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the LDP.
Before the meeting, Noda participated in the general assembly of DPJ lawmakers from both chambers of the Diet.
As for the LDP’s demand that Noda promises to dissolve the Lower House before the Upper House vote on the consumption tax increase bills, the prime minister said in the meeting, “Under any circumstances, I cannot make it clear when to dissolve the Lower House. It is a matter only the prime minister can decide.”
Noda, who took over nearly a year ago as the DPJ's third leader since it surged to power in 2009, staked his political career on the plan to double the 5 percent consumption tax by 2015 to 10 percent to curb Japan's ballooning debt.
He had appeared close to that goal after the DPJ forged a deal with the LDP and its former coalition partner New Komeito in June.
But scenting possible victory given voter anger at the DPJ's failure to live up to campaign promises, the opposition has upped the ante, insisting on an early poll in return for backing the tax bill in the Upper House.
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