Japan PM slapped with censure motion by opposition

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TOKYO – Japan’s opposition was set Wednesday to file a censure motion against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda that threatens to stall parliament and bolster calls for snap elections.

The non-binding motion, expected to pass the opposition-controlled upper house, amounts to a slap on the wrist for the premier and is seen as highly embarrassing.

It heaps more pressure on his government ahead of a general election expected to be called in early November.

It would also effectively end the parliamentary session, killing a government debt financing bill and forcing a downward budget adjustment.

Public support ratings for Noda’s cabinet were down to 30 per cent in recent surveys and the opposition have demanded that he call general elections as they move to oust his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) from power.

This month Noda was forced to promise the leading opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that he would call elections in return for their support for a bill that would double Japan’s sales tax to 10 per cent by 2015 – seen as key to chopping the country’s massive public debt.

The legislation, which at the same time makes provision to revamp Japan’s precarious social security system, has been the main focus of Noda’s premiership.

Its passage was a rare tangible achievement in the revolving-door world of Japanese leaders that has seen six prime ministers in as many years, but could cost Noda, who has only been in office for 11 months, his job.

Observers say the ruling DPJ is likely to suffer at the hands of voters disappointed by their lacklustre three years in office, after five decades of almost unbroken LDP rule. – AFP