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Nikai spurs faction members into eyeing early lower house dissolution

LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai (Mainichi)

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai spurred members of his faction into preparing for a possible dissolution of the House of Representatives, which is rumored to take place in January next year.

"We'll prepare ourselves so we'll be ready for an election at any time," Nikai told a meeting of his own faction on Sept. 29.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, also said the lower house dissolution for a snap general election "could happen anytime."

With remarks by Yamaguchi and other ruling coalition officials in mind, Nikai said, "It doesn't make you feel comfortable when newspapers hype about a lower house dissolution" -- showing his wariness about speculation spreading about the timing of a dissolution.

Many LDP legislators, however, are apparently restless, with faction leaders referring to a possible early dissolution of the chamber at their faction meetings on Sept. 29.

"I'm truly relieved to see some legislators already stumping (in their constituencies) on the assumption that the next election may be near at hand," Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said.

Former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga remarked, "Lower house members worked hard in the House of Councillors election (in July). It is now the turn for us lower house members to fight. It is essential to have a sense of tension as if we were always in a battlefield."

Shinjiro Koizumi, who heads the LDP's agriculture panel and is independent from any faction, told reporters following a party meeting, "A lower house dissolution could take place anytime during the four-year term (of lower chamber members). Lower house legislators must be aware of that."

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