Japan prime minister dissolves parliament; vote set for Dec. 16

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TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of parliament today, paving the way for elections in which his ruling party will likely give way to a weak coalition government divided over how to solve the nation’s myriad problems.

Elections are set for Dec. 16. If Noda’s center-left party loses, the economically sputtering country will get its seventh prime minister in six years.

The opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which led Japan for most of the post-World War II era, is in the best position to take over. The timing of the election likely pre-empts moves by more conservative challengers, including former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, to build electoral support.

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