October 6, 2008 / 12:57 AM / in 11 years

Japan PM says not thinking of calling election now

Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso delivers his first keynote speech since taking office, during a plenary session at the Lower House of Parliament in Tokyo in this file photo from September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Monday he was not thinking of calling an election now, indicating that an expected early poll aimed at breaking a political stalemate may be pushed back.

The 68-year-old Aso, who took office last month after his predecessor resigned suddenly, had been expected to call an election for the lower house as early as November in the hope of breaking a parliamentary deadlock.

“At this stage, I am not thinking about dissolving parliament,” Aso said, adding that the priority now was to deliberate and pass the supplementary budget.

“The greatest interest of the people right now is uncertainty over the future of the economy,” Aso told parliament.

There is growing concern over the impact on Japan’s faltering economy of the U.S. financial crisis, while support for the government may have been hurt following the transport minister’s resignation last week due to a series of contentious remarks.

A media poll on Monday showed that support for Aso’s cabinet and the ruling party had fallen from a previous survey in September.

Approval for Aso’s cabinet stood at 41 percent, down 7 points from September, the Asahi newspaper poll taken on Saturday and Sunday showed.

Asked whom they would vote for if an election took place now, 34 percent of respondents picked the main opposition Democratic Party, up 2 points from last month, while 33 percent chose the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, down 3 points from September.

No election for the lower house need be held until September 2009.

Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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