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Name That Dissolution – A game everyone can play

July 14, 2009

Finally, we have a date for Japan’s general election. After months of speculation, unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Monday he plans to call a national election on Aug. 30 after dissolving parliament next week.

All we need now – in Japan, at least - is a cool name for the dissolution.



Japanese media commentators and lawmakers usually label dissolutions to reflect the political sentiment of the time. In view of the chances of Aso leading the pro-business Liberal Democratic Party to a thumping defeat at the polls, the names put forward so far are bleak as can be.

“Death Throes Dissolution”, “Edge of the Cliff Dissolution” “Life-Threatening Dissolution” and “Suicide Bombing Dissolution” are some monikers already offered in the media.

In a rare move, Aso gave advance warning of the dissolution, rather than going ahead and dissolving the lower house of parliament the same day.  That has been seen as a way to a) appease critics within the party who want to dump him before the vote, and b) give more time to ruling coalition lawmakers, who need to recoup after a crushing loss in a Tokyo assembly election on Sunday.

Aso, once seen as popular enough to help revive his party’s fortunes, has steadily lost support after a series of policy flip-flops and gaffes since taking office last September. He had meant to call an election soon after becoming head of the party last year, but then the global financial storm set in.  Since then, his critics have said he has been indecisive and only wanted to hang on to his job as long as possible. 

That has led to some other names: “Let Me Do It Dissolution”, ”Seeking Sanctuary Dissolution” and, as the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, Yukio Hatoyama, has dubbed it, “Clinging To The Premiership Dissolution”.

The most famous of them all is probably the “Stupid Fool Dissolution” of 1953 called by Aso’s own grandfather, then prime minister Shigeru Yoshida , who lost a vote of no confidence after calling a questioner in parliament exactly that.  

So far, the media hasn’t settled on a name for Aso’s planned dissolution. All suggestions welcome.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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