Page last updated at 05:40 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Japan PM rules out snap election

Japanese PM Taro Aso at a year-end Tokyo press conference
Mr Aso said he wants to make sure the economy did not weaken further.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has ruled out calling a general election in the near future.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Mr Aso said his government needed to focus on tackling the country's economic difficulties.

Correspondents say Mr Aso's approval ratings have fallen amid disappointment over his efforts to revive Japan's economic fortunes.

The opposition has called for a snap poll to prove he has a public mandate.

Mr Aso was speaking to journalists as he presented his government's budget which will be submitted to parliament early next year.

He said, "I'm well aware of talk about elections or a political realignment."

"Now that we are in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis, we are not in a position to talk about such things. I think it's impossible," he added.

Earlier his cabinet approved a budget proposal that, if passed by lawmakers, will push spending to record levels to battle a rapidly worsening recession.

Mr Aso, who took office three months ago, can dissolve parliament and call elections at any time until next September.

He's the fourth prime minister from the Liberal Democratic Party to lead Japan since 2006.

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