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Japanese PM may delay elections until next year

Japanese PM may delay elections until next year

Japan's increasingly unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso will likely hold off calling elections until next year, a senior ruling party official said Sunday as the government grappled with an economic stimulus package it hopes will revive public support.
Appearing on Fuji Television Network, Hiroyuki Hosoda, secretary-general of Aso's Liberal Democratic Party, predicted that the lower house would not be dissolved by year's end as widely speculated.
"I think it has been put off until a bit later," he said.
Since Aso took office on Sept. 24, fallout from the global financial crisis has led to record losses for Japan's stock markets as well as escalating fears about the health of the world's second-largest economy.
His popularity has plummeted accordingly. A national Mainichi Shimbun poll in late October showed that Aso's approval ratings fell sharply to 36 percent, down 9 percentage points from late September. The survey also indicated sliding support for his party, which has run Japan for all but a 10-month stretch since it was founded in 1955.
Opponents of the LDP say it has lost its mandate with voters and have demanded parliamentary elections soon.
Newspapers had reported that Aso would hold elections as early as this month, but he has refused thus far to announce a timetable.
Ruling party leaders are now suggesting that Aso take more time so the government can implement economic measures that could boost its popularity and put the party in better standing with voters.
On Oct. 30, Aso unveiled a 27 trillion yen ($275.7 billion) economic stimulus package that includes expanded credits for small businesses and a total 2 trillion yen ($20.4 billion) in cash disbursements to households.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Saturday that under a proposed version of the plan, each Japanese citizen and permanent resident would receive 12,000 yen ($123), with households getting an extra 8,000 yen ($82) for each child under 18 years old and senior over 65.
The ruling coalition continues to debate details, such as a possible income cap for eligibility.
The LDP's Hosoda on Sunday apologized for the confusion caused by lawmakers' conflicting views and said the cash benefit plan would be finalized in the next several days.
The latest economic package comes on the heels of an 11.7 trillion yen supplementary budget approved last month by Parliament. That plan included help for fishermen and farmers to deal with high fuel prices, as well as assistance for part-time workers to find better jobs.


Updated : 2021-10-16 08:06 GMT+08:00