Japan's major opposition party is considering submitting a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida by the end of the current parliamentary session through June 21, lawmakers said Saturday.
The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan wants to show its opposition to a bill that would secure funds to bolster the nation's defense capabilities, legislation they believe would lead to higher taxes, the lawmakers said.
Some party members, however, have expressed concern that such a move would provide Kishida with the pretext to dissolve the House of Representatives as approval ratings for his Cabinet have been picking up, while they have not yet fully prepared for a snap election.
Speculation has been rife that Kishida, who has been keen to strengthen his political base before his term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party ends in September 2024, might dissolve the lower house as early as next week.
The Kishida administration has been making efforts to ensure the passage of the bill during the ongoing Diet session, but the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has pledged to thwart the legislation by taking whatever steps it can.
The opposition party may submit a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet as an ultimate means to block the passage, although it is certain to be voted down by the ruling camp, the lawmakers said. A party executive said there is "no choice but to submit" the motion.
Kishida has reiterated at press conferences that he is "not thinking of a dissolution" of the lower chamber for a general election "for now," but a close aide quoted the premier as saying, "We do not know what will happen down the road."
On Friday, LDP election chief Hiroshi Moriyama said the submission of a non-confidence motion against the Cabinet "would be a good reason" for Kishida to dissolve the lower house, even if it is rejected.
Some lawmakers, meanwhile, said Kishida might dissolve the lower chamber soon, regardless of whether the non-confidence motion is submitted before the closing of the parliamentary session.
Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, said Saturday that Kishida could even call a snap election by Friday, given that Emperor Naruhito is scheduled to visit Indonesia for seven days through June 23.
Under Japan's Constitution, a prime minister has the authority to decide whether to dissolve the lower house, but the act of dissolution is stipulated to be the role of the emperor, who is defined as the symbol of the country.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday that the lower house could be dissolved even while the emperor is on a foreign trip, but there have been no precedents for such a case since the current Constitution came into effect in 1947.
An LDP lawmaker said such a case would be "very impolite."
Kishida is seen as leaning toward calling a general election in the not-so-distant future with his popularity recovering due largely to his diplomatic achievements, including hosting the Group of Seven summit in his constituency of Hiroshima in May.
But fears are also growing that the support rate for his Cabinet may fall again amid criticism over the leakage of inappropriate private photos taken at the premier's official residence and a series of problems related to "My Number" identification cards.
Moreover, some veteran LDP lawmakers have voiced objection to an early dissolution of the lower house, with former Prime Minister Taro Aso, who now serves as the LDP vice president, saying, "I would like you to tell me the reason" why the chamber should be dissolved.
The current four-year terms for lower house members expire in October 2025 unless Kishida dissolves the chamber.