The Straits Times
Published on Nov 13, 2012

PM Noda 'has decided' on polls: Japanese news reports


TOKYO (AFP) - Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has decided to dissolve Japan's parliament as early as Friday, with an election possibly next month, local media said on Tuesday, a move likely to unseat him from power.

Mr Noda will call an election for as early as December 16 or as late as January 20, according to major Japanese news media, including the Nikkei business daily and the liberal-leaning Asahi Shimbun.

After months of speculation over the date of the next national ballot, the issue surged to the fore on Monday afternoon, with Mr Noda seen pushing a plan to join a vast trans-Pacific free trade pact (TPP) as one of his core campaign pledges. That would mark his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) out from the main opposition party, who are largely against the pact.

The TPP is seen as a key plank in US President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia and a counterweight to the growing clout of China. It presently includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam. "Prime Minister decides to dissolve parliament this year," the frontpage headline of the influential Nikkei business daily said on Tuesday.