World | Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:26pm IST

Japan PM says ready to dissolve parliament for Dec election

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told parliament on Wednesday he would be willing to dissolve parliament on November 16 and hold elections in December if the opposition agreed to pass electoral system reforms.

Earlier, Kyodo news agency reported, citing a ruling party official, that Noda told his party's No. 2 official about his intention to hold a lower house election on December 16.

The lower house term ends in August 2013, but Noda has been under growing pressure to cut it short since August when he promised opposition parties to call "soon" an election that his party looks certain to lose.

The pledge was the price for opposition backing for his signature sales tax increase in the upper house where opposition parties hold a majority.

Noda is already Japan's sixth prime minister since 2006 and the third since his Democratic party swept to power promising to change how Japan is governed after more than half a century of nearly non-stop Liberal Democratic Party rule.

But support for the party has plummeted since then due to policy confusion and political stalemate. Many in his party would prefer to delay the election date, with support for his government at its lowest since Noda took office last year.

(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Writing by Tomasz Janowski: Editing by Neil Fullick)

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