Japan's embattled prime minister has decided to dissolve parliament and call general elections for next month, a news report said today, after his party was defeated in a Tokyo municipal poll considered a barometer of voter sentiment.
Broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News said Taro Aso would dissolve the powerful lower house of parliament next week, and that national elections would be held August 30. Spokesmen at the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters and the prime minister's office said they had no knowledge of the matter.
Aso's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner lost their majority yesterday in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, the local parliament for the Japanese capital and most populated prefecture.
The Tokyo vote was closely watched as sign of how Aso's ruling party would fare against the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan in a general election, which must take place by October. In the Japanese political system the head of the party that has control of the national parliament generally becomes prime minister.
Aso has suffered low approval ratings as Japan's economy stumbles toward deflation and political wrangling has delayed the passing of legislation.
As prime minister he can call a general election at any time, but had apparently been waiting, gambling that his political situation could improve.
Japan's PM to Call General Elections in August
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