Prime Minister Taro Aso has now dissolved the lower house of the Diet:
Official campaigning will kick off Aug. 18, but politicians were already behaving as if the race had begun to determine whether Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) would gain control of government.
In an unusual move, Aso first felt compelled to apologize for his recent flip-flops on policy as well as internal discord within the party.
“My careless statements caused distrust among the public and hurt trust in the political sector,” Aso said at a news conference Tuesday. “I extend my deep apology.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Aso apologized at a meeting of Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers for his statements and the woeful performance of LDP-backed candidates in recent local elections.
Aso said at the news conference he would make three pledges to voters.
He promised to achieve recovery in the domestic economy. He also vowed to assuage growing concerns about jobs, old age and child-rearing and pledged to comprehensively reform the taxation system, reduce the number of Diet members and central government bureaucrats and eliminate the controversial practice of amakudari.
Bonus points to the Asahi translator for thinking to use assuage there. (“Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” was always one of my favorite hymns growing up, though the post-piety me can’t help thinking that was more due to Haydn’s rousing melody than to the text. Still, assuage is a cool word.)