Japan PM: to dissolve lower house Nov 16 if reform agreed

TOKYO Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:45am EST

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TOKYO Nov 14 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Wednesday he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on Nov. 16 if the opposition agreed to carry out electoral reform.

Noda was speaking in a parliamentary debate with main opposition party leader Shinzo Abe. Abe, head of the Liberal Deomcratic Party, agreed to the demand.

Noda, under opposition pressure to call an election he promised in August would be "soon", looks to be leaning towards holding one as early as next month after pledging support for a controversial U.S.-led free trade pact.

But some in his party would prefer to delay it, with support for his government at its lowest since Noda took office last year.

Japan's upper house has fixed six-year terms, with elections for half its members held every three years. Elections for the more powerful lower house can be called at the premier's discretion.

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