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UPDATE1: DPJ exec rejects opposition call for early election, denies party split.

TOKYO, July 1 Kyodo

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is unlikely to call a general election shortly after his key legislation to raise Japan's sales tax rate clears parliament, as demanded by the opposition, nor is his ruling party likely to split over the contentious issue, the party's secretary general suggested Sunday.

The Democratic Party of Japan is unlikely to expel heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa and other party lawmakers who voted against the legislation last Tuesday in the lower house, Azuma Koshiishi indicated in a TV talk show a day after Noda said he will outline a plan Monday on how to punish them "strictly."

"It is inconceivable that punishments will hamper our unity," Koshiishi said.

Noda is not expected to dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election at least until other key legislation, such as bills to enable the government to issue deficit-covering bonds and reform the lower house election system, are approved during the current Diet session through Sept. 8, he said.

Meanwhile, Ozawa reiterated he will decide Monday on whether to leave the ruling party over the legislation.

Speaking to reporters in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, Ozawa reiterated his opposition to the legislation and said, "We have to make a decision on what we should do to realize our aims tomorrow at the latest.''

If Ozawa breaks away from the DPJ, around 50 of the party's lawmakers in both houses are expected to follow him.

In the same program, opposition leader Sadakazu Tanigaki, whose Liberal Democratic Party supported the legislation to double the 5 percent consumption tax rate to 10 percent by 2015, reiterated his call for an election shortly after its enactment, saying, "It is time to seek a public mandate."

Tanigaki also said the main opposition party would decide whether to back a no-confidence motion against Noda's government if other parties submitted one by examining if the ruling camp upholds revisions to related social security reforms agreed with his party and its ally the New Komeito party.

On Monday, Koshiishi is slated to hold a fourth round of talks with Ozawa to ask him to remain in the DPJ.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Jul 2, 2012
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