Reports Cite Japan June Election
TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s ruling coalition is preparing to hold a general election in June to solidify its power before a key summit of major industrialized nations in July, Japanese media reports said Saturday.
The election could come as early as June 4, the mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun newspaper said, citing unidentified sources in the Liberal Democratic Party, the major party in the coalition.
Phone calls to the Liberal Democratic Party office went unanswered Saturday.
The Liberal Democratic, New Komeito and Conservative parties formed a new coalition after a junior coalition member broke away last week.
Opposition parties have complained that the new coalition does not have a public mandate, as it was not chosen in a general election.
Yoshiro Mori, who on Wednesday replaced the ailing Keizo Obuchi as prime minister, has brushed off suggestions that opposition parties could force a general election before the Group of Eight summit, saying that bolstering the economy and preparing for the summit were his priorities.
Japan will play host to the July 21-23 G-8 summit.
Still, many LDP members are said to favor an early general election to exploit possible sympathy votes for the ruling party after Obuchi’s collapse. On April 2, Obuchi suffered a massive stroke that left him in a coma.
Preparations for a June election are already under way, the Nihon Keizai financial daily said. Elections must be held by October.
On the Net:
Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party: http://www.jimin.or.jp/jimin/english/e-index.html