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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid