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Japan Lower House breakup by year-end now seen unlikely

Tokyo, Oct. 21 (Jiji Press)–After Typhoon Hagibis caused extensive damage in Japan earlier this month, it is now increasingly unlikely for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to dissolve the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of the Diet, the country’s parliament, by the end of the year for a snap general election, political watchers have said.

Monday marked the midway point in the four-year terms of current Lower House members, who won seats in the chamber in the October 2017 election.

A Lower House dissolution “could come at any time” once half of the term passes, said a person who has served as minister.

Some in the ruling and opposition camps had been bracing for the possibility of Abe dissolving the Lower House next month unless substantial progress is made in Diet discussions on constitutional amendments, with major opposition parties remaining reluctant to accept debates on revisions of the top law.

But work to reconstruct areas hit by the typhoon is now expected to take a long time, diminishing the likelihood of a Lower House breakup any time soon. “I don’t feel at all an atmosphere around me of the Lower House being dissolved,” Fumio Kishida, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council, told a news conference on Monday.

“If it were not for the typhoon, I thought there would be a Lower House dissolution after Daijosai, but it’s not likely anymore,” a senior member of the LDP’s Komeito ally said, referring to the thanksgiving ceremony to be performed by Japanese Emperor Naruhito on Nov. 14-15.

The government and the ruling parties are considering compiling a fiscal 2019 supplementary budget to cover costs for reconstruction related to the typhoon, apparently aiming to submit it at the start of next year’s ordinary Diet session to be convened in January.

“It has become difficult to dissolve the Lower House early next year,” said a senior LDP official in charge of Diet affairs.

Opposition parties are also against an early breakup of the Lower House.

“The government and the Diet “should fully focus their efforts on postdisaster reconstruction,” Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, told reporters.

“Expectations for a Lower House breakup by year-end have been blown away by the typhoon,” a senior member of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) said, suggesting that the chamber may be dissolved after the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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