Senior officials from Japan’s main opposition party said over the weekend that they would likely seek a censure motion against prime minister Yoshihiko Noda as part of their push for early elections.
The Liberal Democratic Party alleges that Noda’s administration lacks the ability to manage the government both on internal and foreign affairs.
A censure, while nonbinding, would put more pressure on the prime minister as he deals with a growing diplomatic dispute with South Korea. It would also further imperil pending legislation to authorise government borrowing for the current fiscal year, because the opposition would typically refuse to work with the government on any parliamentary matters after a censure motion.
LDP leader Sadakazu Tanigaki said Saturday: “We will probably submit [the censure motion]. It will probably be next week.”
Representatives from both parties, however, said talks would take place early this week to try to resolve the dispute.
The ruling party’s parliament-affairs head Koriki Jojima said he was worried about the political bickering while Noda is coping with various diplomatic issues, particularly over the dispute concerning Liancourt Rocks, which are controlled by South Korea, where they are known as the Dokdo Islands, and claimed by Japan, where they are called the Takeshima Islands. South Korean and Japanese officials have been trading protests since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a visit to one of the islands on August 10.
“It is as good as playing into [South Korea's] hands,” Jojima said. “That will harm the national interest,” he said on an NHK programme on Sunday.
The opposition has been increasing the pressure to hold elections. It backed Noda’s landmark legislation to double the national consumption tax to 10 percent in early August in exchange for a pledge that an election would be held in the “near term.”
“Japan’s politics should make a fresh start as early as possible,” LDP parliamentary affairs head Fumio Kishida said on the NHK programme.
Noda has declined to be more specific on timing. With opinion polls showing the government’s support level hovering just below 30%, the opposition is keen to hold the polls as soon as possible. According to various Japanese media reports, an election in early November is considered the most likely.