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Japanese prime minister dissolves lower house

Taro Aso, the Japanese prime minister, today dissolved the parliament’s lower house in a move that sets the country up for elections on August 30.

Aso, who came to office in September 2008 following the resignation of Yasuo Fukuda, has seen his popularity nosedive along with his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Public anger was openly expressed in the Tokyo metropolitan election on July 12 where the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the main opposition party, became the largest single party, winning 54 of the 127 available seats.

Commentators suggested the results were a reflection of anger over a scandal-hit government and the perceived failure of Aso personally to lead the country out of one of its worst recessions for half a century.

Opinion polls in the country have Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of DPJ, significantly ahead of Aso in terms of popularity. A victory for the opposition would mark a watershed in Japanese politics in which the LDP has held office for all but 10 months since 1955.

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