Japan PM dissolves Parliament, fresh polls on Dec 16
Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved Parliament on Friday, and the elections will be held next month on December 16.
Analysts said the elections next month would likely see the emergence of a weak coalition government without the capability to give a clear direction to governance and policy making in order to deal with the country's myriad problems.
Polls show that nearly half of the electorate is undecided on which party to support but it's clear that the ruling Democrats — in power for the last three years — are very likely to lose, news agency AP reported.
Although the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which led Japan for most of the post-World War II era, would win the most seats in the 480-seat Lower House it will fall far short of a majority, according to the polls.
With no party a clear winner, Japan will end up with a coalition government made up of parties with differing policies and priorities. This could hinder decision-making as Japan wrestles with a two-decade economic slump, clean-up from last year's nuclear disaster, growing national debt and a rapidly aging population — not to mention a festering territorial dispute with China that is hurting business ties with its biggest trading partner.
"It's unlikely that the election will result in a clear mandate for anybody," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University. "So in that sense, there's still going to be a lot of muddling through."
Japan must also decide whether it will follow through with plans to phase out nuclear power by 2040 — a move that many in the LDP oppose.
In a sudden turn of events, Noda abruptly said on Wednesday in a one-on-one debate with LDP chief Shinzo Abe that he would dissolve Parliament on Friday if the opposition would agree to key reforms, including shrinking the size of Parliament.
Abe, who said his party would go along with the measures, could get a second stab at being the prime minister after his one-year stint in 2006-07 if the LDP wins the most seats in the election. He would become Japan's seventh prime minister in seven years.
Noda's Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory in 2009 elections amid high hopes for change, ousting the conservative, business-friendly LDP, which had ruled Japan nearly continuously since 1955.
But those hopes have been dashed amid widespread disgust with the DPJ's failure to keep campaign promises and the government's handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.
(With Agency inputs)