With the prolonged confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties in the Diet remaining unresolved, certain ruling party members have begun to talk about “early dissolution of the House of Representatives” in an attempt to pressure the opposition. However, this is mostly regarded as unrealistic, since barely six months have passed since the last Lower House election. The opposition is reacting very strongly to this unscrupulous maneuvering of the government and ruling parties.
On April 25, after a meeting in Tokyo of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito secretaries general and Diet Affairs Committee chiefs, LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Hiroshi Moriyama told reporters: “If the opposition submits a motion for a vote of no confidence, dissolving the Lower House will be one option for the cabinet.”
It is unusual for a senior ruling party official to talk about Lower House dissolution, which is the prime minister’s “prerogative.” It is believed that this was meant to intimidate the opposition parties, which have been boycotting Diet proceedings, to make them resume deliberations.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with former Lower House member Muneo Suzuki at the Kantei on the same day. According to Suzuki, Moriyama’s remark on dissolving the Lower House came up at the meeting. Abe did not rule out the possibility, telling him: “I would like to consider all options in my response, in order to win the people’ understanding.”
Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on April 25: “I have no knowledge of such a thing. I will refrain from answering a hypothetical question.”
LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai flatly denied the possibility. He told reporters: “How can the Lower House be dissolved right now? Is it possible to dissolve the Lower House without the knowledge of the secretary general?”
The reason Diet dissolution, which is not realistic, can be used to threaten the opposition is that opinion polls by the media outlets show that despite the plunge in Diet support ratings, the LDP enjoys significantly higher support than all the opposition parties.
These parties all reacted strongly to the remarks about dissolution. Party of Hope leader Tamaki told a party meeting on April 25: “It seems that they are issuing a threat. We will accept that challenge in order to topple the Abe administration.”
Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) Diet Affairs Committee chief Kiyomi Tsujimoto also told reporters: “Are they trying to threaten us? Can the government and the ruling parties afford to do that? We will submit a motion for a vote of no confidence when necessary.”