News / Asia

Japan's PM Dissolves Parliament

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda raises his fist as he makes a speech to his party's lawmakers at his party's meeting after the dissolution of the lower house in Tokyo, November 16, 2012.
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda raises his fist as he makes a speech to his party's lawmakers at his party's meeting after the dissolution of the lower house in Tokyo, November 16, 2012.
— Japan's prime minister Friday dissolved the Lower House of the Diet (Parliament), compelling a national election. This comes as Japan teeters on a return to recession and amid increased tensions between Japan and its neighbors.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has set parliamentary elections for December 16 - a move that comes despite the objection of many members of his own party. They fear what opinion polls overwhelmingly predict:  the Democratic Party of Japan in power for the last three years is now in disarray and likely will lose the election.

An opinion poll taken Wednesday, before Noda announced he would dissolve the Lower House, showed his approval rating down to nearly 17 percent, a drop of six percent from the previous month. He is Japan's sixth prime minister in as many years.

Noda only agreed to call an election after he obtained the opposition's consent to approve in the Upper House, which it controls, a bill that allows the government to issue bonds to cover its debts for the fiscal year.

Besides economic and diplomatic woes, Japan is also beset with an uncertain energy policy and lingering effects of the March 11, 2011 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami on its northeastern coast. That disaster killed about 20,000 people and caused three nuclear reactors to melt down.

The election is expected to return the conservatives to rule, a position they held for most of the period after the Second World War ended.

The prime minister, speaking to reporters warned that if the Liberal Democratic Party gets back into power relations could worsen with Japan's neighbors.

Noda says foreign and security policies based on extreme nationalism are dangerous. Japan, he says, needs to assert its positions on its national interests but remain calm and take a wide perspective.

Most political observers predict the hawkish former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, should be able to cobble together a weak coalition led by his LDP, with the support of new fringe parties, to return to his old job.

Speaking to his party's executives Friday morning Abe says their mission, on behalf of the public, is to wage a "historic battle" and capture victory.

Abe resigned five years ago, citing health problems following his party's heavy loss in elections for the less powerful Upper House.

Japan's currency fell to a six-month low after Abe the previous day made an unusually bold statement seen as pressuring the country's central bank to weaken the yen.

In a speech, the opposition leader said Japan's economic problems stem from prolonged deflation and a strong yen. He called for the unlimited printing of currency to achieve three percent inflation - triple the current target.

Japan's neighbors do not take delight in the probable return of Abe.

Tokyo is involved in territorial disputes with both China and South Korea.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Thursday, asked to comment on the impending return to power of Abe, noted relations between Beijing and Tokyo are "grim" and implored Japan to "make concrete efforts towards improving bilateral relations."

China unveiled its new leadership lineup on Thursday. Japan's government reacted with a call for "mutually beneficial" relations with the new Chinese leaders.

The Japanese finance minister is set to visit Seoul a week from Saturday. That will mark the first full official meeting between Japanese and South Korean officials since their disagreement over a Korean-held island (Dokdo in Korean, Takeshima in Japanese) flared in the summer.

The direction of their relationship also hinges on who South Korea elects as its next president. The country will hold its election on December 19, just three days after Japanese voters go to the polls.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid