Japan's prime minister tries to outflank new party
September 24, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT)
TOKYO (CNN) -- Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto is
working to consolidate support after calling elections for
lower house seats nine months early.
One big impetus is the fledgling Democratic Party of Japan,
now just about a week old. Fear that the liberal-leaning party
will gain strong public support helped force the hand of
Hashimoto and his unstable three-party coalition.
The new party was formed by Yukio Hatoyama, a Stanford-
educated physicist now trying to build membership and field
candidates in time for the October 20 election.
"By calling for general elections so quickly, I think
Hashimoto is taking the best strategy -- not to give time to
Hatoyama to consolidate his power," said political analyst
"I think Mr. Hashimoto may barely remain prime minister in at
least the next administration."
On Tuesday, Hashimoto met privately with President Clinton at
the United Nations. Analysts said the high-profile
association would help promote Hashimoto's job security.
Hashimoto, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, also
reiterated Japan's desire to join the United States, Britain,
France, China and Russia as a permanent member of the U.N.
"Japan, with the endorsement of many countries, is prepared
to discharge its responsibilities as a permanent member of
the Security Council in accordance with its basic philosophy
of non-resort to the use of force, prohibited by its
constitution," he said.
Hashimoto's battle for power at home doesn't end after the
general elections. In fact, that's when the real work
No one party is expected to win a majority in the 500-seat
lower house. Since Parliament elects the prime minister,
Hashimoto faces the tough task of rebuilding a secure
coalition if he is to hang onto his job.
Correspondent May Lee and Reuters contributed to this report.
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