Unbroken Liberal Democratic Party of Taro Aso Losing Elections
Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso called national elections for Aug. 30, setting up a contest that polls indicate will end his Liberal Democratic Party’s almost unbroken half-century of rule.
Aso, 68, plans on dissolving the lower house of parliament the week of July 21, government spokesman Jun Matsumoto said. The announcement came a day after the LDP lost its majority in the Tokyo assembly, the fifth straight regional defeat for the ruling party.
Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, is coping with the world’s most rapidly aging population , its largest public debt and rising unemployment. Aso and his party’s prospects have plummeted as cabinet scandals and internal challenges detracted from efforts to promote his 25 trillion yen ($270 billion) in stimulus measures.
At the meantime, Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso will dissolve the lower house of parliament this month and call for a general election in August, the government said Monday. The lower house of the Diet will be dissolved the week of July 21; elections for new lawmakers will be held on August 30, said Jun Matsumoto, the chief Cabinet spokesman.
The beleaguered prime minister has faced increasing pressure from within his party, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), to step down as his approval rating plummets amid Japan's worsening economy.
On Sunday, the LDP suffered a huge defeat in local elections, when it lost its majority in the Tokyo assembly to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and its coalition partner. Mr. Aso, who replaced Yasuo Fukuda as prime minister last September, has been unable to heal the growing divisions within his party, and his personal popularity in recent polls dipped below 20 percent. Respondents consistently cite dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of Japan’s battered economy.
A poll conducted last week for the country’s largest daily newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, showed that 41 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for the Democratic Party in national elections, compared to 24 percent for the Liberal Democrats.
Mr. Aso had tried to downplay any connection between the municipal vote and his party’s national political fortunes, although the result Sunday was only the latest in a string of regional electoral defeats for the Liberal Democrats since April. The Liberal Democrats, the conservative party that has governed Japan almost continually since its founding in 1955, lost its majority in the upper house of the Japanese Parliament two years ago.