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Japan PM rules out snap polls after confidence vote

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - 22:00

Tokyo: Japan`s new centre-left Prime
Minister Naoto Kan easily survived a no-confidence motion
on Wednesday and dismissed opposition calls for snap elections for
the powerful lower house of parliament.

The conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) submitted the motion after Kan took over as leader of
the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) last week, arguing
that the new prime minister had no popular mandate.
But Kan, who has been riding high in opinion polls,
brushed aside opposition calls for the holding of lower house
elections in tandem with a scheduled vote for the upper house
on July 11.

"I have no such ideas in mind at all," Kan told
reporters.

The DPJ is seeking a strong majority in the upper chamber
in order to easily pass laws and avoid policy gridlock in
Asia`s biggest economy, which Kan has warned faces a
Greece-style meltdown because of its massive public debt.

"A firm victory in the upper house election will lead to
stable power," Kan told upper house members of his party.

Because Kan`s party has a commanding majority in the
lower house, it easily defeated the no-confidence motion
which, if passed, would have forced him to step down and
dissolve the house for general elections.
The motion was defeated by 315 votes against 153 after a
spirited debate.

"Prime Minister Kan, you are the Great Satan who brings
maximum unhappiness to Japan," thundered LDP lawmaker Hideaki
Omura in one of the more boisterous outbursts, drawing both
cheers and howls of disapproval from the chamber.

Just weeks ahead of the upper house election, Kan last
week succeeded Yukio Hatoyama who resigned amid political
funding scandals and a dispute over a US airbase after less
than nine months in office.

LDP lawmaker Ryosei Akazawa charged that "the Kan
administration was formed by merely swapping the heads without
asking for the people`s voice. The Kan administration is
obviously a government without legitimacy."

Kan on Friday pledged a fiscal policy overhaul to reduce
the country`s huge public debt, which at over USD 10 trillion
is now nearly double its gross domestic product.

Japan`s 150-day parliamentary session ended today as the
government officially announced that the upper house elections
will take place on July 11.

The DPJ plans to announce its election manifesto
tomorrow.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - 22:00

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