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Noda gov't in hot water as LDP eyes comeback

By Xia Ziyi (Xinhua)

08:32, September 27, 2012

TOKYO, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was elected as the head of the main opposition Liberal Democratic party (LDP) in the just-concluded election Wednesday, five days after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda retained the leadership of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

Abe, a hawkish politician aiming for a second stint as premier in the next general election due within a year, is seen to put more heat on the Noda-led government and force him to dissolve the House of Representatives at an early date, analysts say.

Noda knew exactly there would be a mountain of problems ahead of him when he said twice in his victory speech last Friday that " I can't laugh at all at the moment," as recent opinion polls showed the approval rate for his party has dipped below 30 percent, considered as a "danger zone" for the survival of a government.

Noda has announced his lineup of new DPJ executives Monday before going to New York for the UN General Assembly in a bid to regain shattered public confidence. Azuma Koshiishi, the party's No. 2 figure, was assured the secretary general post, a move expected to intensify the opposition's attack on Noda as the 76- year-old veteran has been advocating for healing intraparty rift and postponing the dissolution of the lower house which could see the DPJ ousted by the LDP from power in the next general election.

Over the past year under Noda administration, more than 70 DPJ lawmakers have bowed out of the party due to differences with Noda over his controversial policy of hiking sales tax, including the one-time power broker Ichiro Ozawa who instead set up a new party.

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