Page last updated at 04:45 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 05:45 UK

Party rebels move on Japanese PM

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Taro Aso
Mr Aso's party has governed for most of the past half century

Rebels within Japan's governing party are making last ditch attempts to remove Prime Minister Taro Aso before he can dissolve parliament on Tuesday.

Local media say a petition has been signed by more than a third of the party's MPs demanding a meeting.

Under party rules it must be held within seven days.

Mr Aso said he would call an election for 30 August but critics within his party said under his leadership it would be political suicide.

For decades it was a slick, election-winning machine, but now Prime Minister Taro Aso's decision to call a snap poll has caused chaos in his Liberal Democratic Party.

Members of parliament, including Japan's finance minister Kaoru Yosano, have signed a petition demanding an urgent party meeting.

Rebels have called openly for Mr Aso to be ousted believing he is leading them to an historic defeat.

The LDP has been in power for almost all the past half century.

It was earlier this week that Prime Minister tried to head off his party critics by letting it be known he would dissolve parliament next Tuesday.

Deeply unpopular, he has been under pressure to step down for months.

Japan is in a deep recession and at times the Prime Minister has appeared indecisive.

Many believe a last minute change of leader would do little to improve the Liberal Democratic Party's fortunes.

Mr Aso is already the fourth prime minister since the party won the last election to the more powerful lower house of parliament in 2005.

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