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Kan Says Japan Energy Debate Will Dominate Next Election

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the debate over energy policy following the Fukushima nuclear crisis will be the focus of the nation’s next parliamentary election.

“We’ve started debating a sweeping review of our basic energy policy,” Kan told fellow lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan today in Tokyo. “The direction of our energy policy will probably be the biggest agenda item in the next national election.”

Kan reiterated today his intention to seek parliamentary approval for a second disaster recovery package, authorizing the sale of deficit-covering bonds and enacting a renewable energy bill, as he faces pressure from both the opposition and his own party to step down over his handling of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The current term for the lower house of parliament is scheduled to last until the second half of 2013.

Ben Hashimoto, a first-term lower house lawmaker, said he was concerned Kan may dissolve the lower chamber and call an election, and asked Democratic Party leaders not to take such a step.

“Holding an election at this time would be unthinkable under normal circumstances, but unusual things have been happening lately,” said Yasunori Sone, a political science professor at Keio University in Tokyo. “Dissolution could happen.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo at ssakamaki1@bloomberg.net; Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at thirokawa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg in Hong Kong at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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