Abe May Go For Simultaneous Diet Elections

Abe may go for simultaneous Diet elections

Japanese lawmakers are speculating that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may dissolve the Lower House for a snap election to coincide with an Upper House election scheduled for this summer.

This follows NHK's latest poll, which showed that the approval rating of the Abe Cabinet rose one point from last month to 48 percent. The disapproval rate fell three points to 32 percent.

Members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party say the solid figure could prompt the prime minister to go for simultaneous elections of both houses of the Diet.

The Secretary General of the ruling LDP, Toshihiro Nikai, said that the party is prepared to fully support any decision that the prime minister will make.

But Tetsuo Saito, the Secretary-General of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, said that nobody knows what will happen after the Lower House is dissolved, and that they could lose the election.

Opposition lawmakers are concerned that Abe may take the action on the assumption opposition parties are poorly prepared for elections.

Uncertainty regarding the Japanese economy is also affecting the speculation. The government has reiterated that it remains committed to raising the consumption tax in October unless something as drastic as the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse occurs.

But a government report said on Monday that a key gauge of business conditions shows Japan's economy is worsening.

Akira Nagatsuma, deputy president of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, said his party needs to be fully prepared for elections. He said Abe may once again put off the consumption tax hike and hold a Lower House election.

The leader of the Democratic Party For the People, Yuichiro Tamaki, said the ruling and opposition parties are heading towards a showdown. He said that with the Diet session about to end, opposition parties are expected to submit a no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet.

Abe told executive LDP members that the party should initiate Diet debates on Constitutional amendments by presenting its plans on Constitutional revisions in the run-up to the Upper House election this summer.