THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, JAPAN TIMES, NHK (Japan)
TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the parliament on Friday, as his ruling party is thrown deeper into political crisis.
During a plenary session, the Lower House speaker read out a statement declaring the dissolution of the chamber, with a general election called for December 16.
The move comes amidst growing pressure on Noda and his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), as his support figures continue to dwindle in recent polls.
The Democratic Party came to power just three years ago, after finally wrestling power away from the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) 50-year reign.
However, Noda has been torn between the LDP -- who have brandished him a "liar" for not fulfilling his promise of dissolving parliament in August -- and his own ruling party, where many key political figures threaten to resign in response to the dissolution of parliament.
Six members of the DPJ have voiced their intention to walk out, causing Noda's party to lose the majority in parliament.
Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University, told the Japan Times: "Noda seems more interested in gaining a reputation as a great politician rather than doing what's best for his party."
"He promised (in August) to dissolve the Lower House 'soon,' and that word became a burden for him," Nakano added.
The dissolution of parliament has this time been in exchange for pushing through a crucial deficit-covering bill, in order to finance this year's public spending and thus avoiding a "fiscal cliff," reports NHK.
Noda waving goodbye: "Sayonara Everyone" (@NICHIGIN via Twitter)
The LDP is now likely to win the election next month; however, it could result in a coalition with poll figures showing almost half of voters are undecided.
The country's economic problems and the question of nuclear energy are set to dominate the campaign. The Asahi Shimbun reports that the LDP mainly differs with the ruling party over the question of nuclear power. Noda's government had previously advocated a stop on nuclear power by 2030, whereas the LDP seek to maintain it for now.
President of the Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe told reporters yesterday: “There is the need for efforts to promote renewable energy. But I do not make an irresponsible declaration like zero reliance on nuclear power in three decades, as did the DPJ.”