Japanese opposition leader Shinzo Abe signaled his willingness to allow parliamentary debate on a bill to fund the rest of this year’s budget, while stopping short of saying he will support it.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has called on the opposition to back the bill before he fulfills an August pledge to call an election “soon.” The standoff with Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party over the deficit bond bill and the election threatens to cut off funds at the end of November as reports show the world’s third-largest economy may be sliding into recession.
“We are offering a period of sunshine for him to think,” Abe said yesterday on NHK television. “This is the last chance for the prime minister to prove that he is not a liar.”
Abe said Noda this week must express his intention to call an election before the end of the year, which ruling Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Azuma Koshiishi yesterday said would be “difficult.” The government’s support is plummeting ahead of a vote that must be called by August, increasing the likelihood of a seventh Japanese premier since 2006.
Noda failed last month to persuade Abe and New Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi to support the legislation authorizing the issuance of deficit-financing bonds without specifying a date for elections. Finance Minister Koriki Jojima has said the government will run out of money at the end of November unless the bill passes.
Support for Noda’s cabinet fell 11.5 percentage points to 17.7 percent, the lowest since he took office in September 2011, according to a Kyodo News poll published today. Support for the DPJ was 12.1 percent compared with 27.7 percent for the LDP. The Kyodo survey was conducted Nov. 3-4 and 1,012 people responded, the agency said.
Economists at Nomura Securities Co. and Citigroup Inc. revised down their forecasts for Japan’s third-quarter gross domestic product after a report last week showed industrial production fell the most in September since last year’s earthquake. Citigroup is among those forecasting that the economy will contract in the last two quarters of the year.
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