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Will Kishida Dissolve Lower House Early With Improved Approval Rating?

The slight boost in the Cabinet's approval rating could prompt Kishida to dissolve the Lower House and call a general election before the end of June.



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors on March 23 in Committee Room Number 1 of the House of Councillors. (© Sankei by Ataru Haruna)

On March 21, the Japanese Prime Minister made a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. His trip has fueled speculation within the ruling party that PM Fumio Kishida could dissolve the House of Representatives, the lower house of the Japanese Diet, before the end of the current Diet session on June 21.

There is growing optimism within the administration that the visit to Ukraine will provide a further tailwind to the Cabinet's approval rating. Those ratings improved earlier following the Japan-South Korea summit on March 16, at which the parties agreed to normalize relations.

Survey Shows Increased Support

On March 23, Kishida returned to Japan from Ukraine and attended a meeting of the House of Councillors' Budget Committee. There, Kishida spoke about his visit to Ukraine and expressed his determination to "end Russia's aggression as soon as possible." He also stressed that Japan must demonstrate its leadership as the chair of the Group of Seven (G7).

At a press conference on March 17, the day after the Japan-South Korea summit, Kishida proposed measures to strengthen support for households raising children.

A joint survey conducted by The Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network (FNN) on the following two days, March 18 and 19, revealed that the Cabinet's approval rating was 45.9%. This is 5.3 percentage points higher than the previous survey in February.

The day after Kishida's visit to Ukraine, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership said, "I believe his approval rating will rise even further. There is no better opportunity to win an election."

The earliest possible date for the lower house election is April 23, 2023. This is the same day as the by-elections for House of Representatives seats, which will be held in five constituencies. In that case, the House of Representatives would be dissolved after the FY2023 budget is passed in late March.

Kishida Ukraine
PM Kishida and President Zelenskyy at the joint statement signing ceremony. (@ Cabinet Public Relations Office)

A General Election in June?

However, the Kishida administration has dismissed such speculation, citing unfinished business. At the end of March, the government has said it will have a list of draft measures to combat falling births. On April 1, it is launching the Children and Families Agency

In addition, the government will be working on the final preparations for the G7 Hiroshima Summit, which will take place from May 19 to 21.

But by mid-June, the summit will be over, and the Cabinet would likely have approved the Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform. This is a guideline for economic and fiscal management that includes specific measures to address falling births.

Therefore, some former cabinet ministers believe that "there is a growing possibility" that the Lower House will be dissolved just before the end of the current Diet session.

Kishida may "decide that holding the lower house election in the first half of this year would be preferable," according to a senior government official. This is due to the possibility of increased uncertainty in the domestic economy and global financial markets in the second half of the year.

A no-confidence motion by the opposition parties against the Kishida cabinet near the end of the current session could also prompt the Prime Minister to dissolve the House of Representatives and seek the people's mandate.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Issei Tanaka

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