Japan PM Kishida rules out dissolving lower house in 2023

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has ruled out dissolving the lower house for a snap general election within the year, one of his close aides said Thursday, citing a tight political schedule and the need to implement economic measures.

The decision came amid the sluggish popularity of Kishida’s Cabinet, with its support rate falling to a fresh low of 28.3 percent in a survey conducted by Kyodo News during the long weekend.

The resignations of two members of Kishida’s Cabinet after it was revamped in September, one after an affair with a woman was revealed and the other over a violation of the election law, prompted ruling lawmakers to call for the postponement of a lower house dissolution.

The government is seeking passage in November of a draft supplementary budget, which is set to be endorsed by the Cabinet on Friday, to fund a new economic stimulus package worth over 17 trillion yen ($113 billion), the aide said.

In December, Kishida is expected to concentrate on compiling an initial draft budget for the next fiscal year from April, making it more difficult for him to dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election by the end of the year.

Kishida’s government announced new economic steps last week aimed at giving tax breaks to help households that are struggling with inflation that has far outpaced wager increases, but his Cabinet’s approval ratings have not recovered.

After the draft supplementary budget is passed by parliament, there will be little room to call a snap election by the end of the year, with Kishida also set to face a ruling Liberal Democratic Party presidential election in 2024.

Kishida is scheduled to host a special three-day summit in Tokyo from Dec. 16 with the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to mark the 50th year of Japan’s friendship and cooperation with the regional bloc.

The four-year terms of current lower house members will expire in October 2025 unless a prime minister dissolves the chamber.

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