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Legislative session ends ahead of election

July 28, 2009 - JAPAN

Prime Minister Taro Aso

Japan's conservative Prime Minister, Taro Aso, has extended the current legislative session by 55 days to Jul 28, and is expected to call an election for August or early September. The poll must be held by 10 Sep. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) hopes to use the country's plummeting economy and Aso's lower approval ratings to beat his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has ruled the country for almost all of the last 50 years. A financial scandal could spoil the DJP plan. The Bloomberg news service reported in July that city elections in mid July could determine whether the prime minister can keep his job long enough to call a national ballot his party is projected to lose. Plans to respond to Japan's worst recession since World War Two have been delayed by a political deadlock in a divided parliament, where the opposition controls the upper house and can delay bills.The LDP has said the 55-day extension aims to allow his government to push through key bills to stimulate the economy and to expand the scope of Japan's anti-piracy mission off Somalia. Though the ruling party has had a near lock on power for half a century, party leaders come and go regularly. The 1955-1993 LDP government was led by 15 prime ministers, and seven prime ministers have led the sitting LDP government over the last 13. The DPJ has elected a new leader, Yukio Hatoyama, in the wake of the scandal. UPDATED Jul/09

Japan election after August? (Reuters/Straits Times 20 Apr 2009)

Japan election may bring tougher climate policies (Reuters 24 Mar 2009)

Date written/update: 2009-07-28