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Japan PM says no immediate plan for dissolving lower house, priority on economy

(Xinhua)    20:56, January 04, 2017

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday that he has no immediate plan of dissolving the lower house of parliament for a snap election and priority for the new year would be on the economy.

Speaking at a New Year press conference in Mie Prefecture, central Japan after visiting the Ise Grand Shrine, the prime minister said that he "is not considering at all dissolving the lower house to call a snap election."

Speculation around the timing of the next lower house election has been on the rise for the past several months, as leader of the majority party in the lower house would usually take on the position of prime minister, and Abe is apparently trying to choose the best window for the sake of himself and his party.

"There could well be a dissolution of the lower house and a general election this year, (so) we'll maintain and enhance our preparations for battle," said Yoshihiko Noda, Secretary General of the main opposition Democratic Party, at his party's New Year ceremony on Wednesday.

Kazuo Shii, leader of the Japanese Communist Party, said on Wednesday that it is possible to bring down the Abe administration if the opposition parties strengthen cooperation.

The four main opposition parties -- the Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party -- have decided to work together against the ruling bloc in the next lower house election, the timing of which is solely up to Abe.

At Wednesday's press conference, Abe also stressed that his administration will continue the efforts to pull Japan out of deflation in the new year and "the top economic policy would be a swift enactment of the fiscal 2017 budget."

The draft budget for fiscal 2017, including a record-high military budget totaling some 5.13 trillion yen (around 43.5 billion U.S. dollars), will be submitted to the next ordinary Diet session, which, according to Abe, would convene on Jan. 20.

Regarding Japan's pacifist Constitution which took effect some 70 years ago, Abe claimed at the press conference that "now is the time to look to the future, in anticipation of the next 70 years, and proceed with new nation-building."

Revising the Constitution has long been a goal of Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The LDP has been advocating constitutional revision as part of its platform since the party was founded in the 1950s, including changing the war-renouncing Article 9.

Abe's ruling LDP and other forces in favor of revising Japan's pacifist Constitution won a two-thirds majority in last year's upper house election, bringing the prime minister's goal of constitutional revision closer to fruition.

On the sensitive matter of Japanese emperor's apparent wish for abdication, Abe said that the issue is "an extremely serious matter", which should be considered "in a quiet environment" and not be involved in political fighting.

On the diplomatic issues, Abe said that he would continue to pursue "proactive diplomacy, looking across the globe with a bird's-eye view."

Renho, leader of the largest opposition Democratic Party, also kicked off the year in Ise on Wednesday, saying at a New Year press conference there that she wants her party to emphasize its difference with the Abe administration.

"Our views will differ greatly from Prime Minister Abe's this year, and I want the public to see that," she said.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, for his part, said on Wednesday in his first address of the year that he would continue to "use every possible method available to the prefecture" to block the central government's plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko.

Japan's top court ruled last month that Onaga acted "illegally" when he revoked in October 2015 an approval issued by his predecessor for the landfill work of the relocation plan. The central government later resumed construction work at the Henoko site.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have been seeking to move the Futenma base from the crowded Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago. The people of Okinawa, however, demand the Futenma base to be relocated outside the prefecture.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Tianrui, Bianji)

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