The Japanese government and opposition are at great odds over spending. The country's prime minister has warned that the stalemate over a new financing bill could threaten many public services.
Speaking at an extraordinary session of parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda warned that unless the bill is passed, large parts of Japanese public life could grind to a halt.
The bill needs to be passed in order to to fund a deficit of 38.3 trillion yen (367.3 billion euros, $481 billion).
"If the current situation continues, bread-and-butter administrative services will stall to the extent that it will have a great impact on people's lives, which in turn could be an obstacle to economic recovery," Noda told parliament.
Japan's opposition has refused to cooperate with Noda until he announces early elections. In August, Noda agreed to call an election "soon" to secure opposition votes for a doubling of Japan's sale tax to generate extra revenue.
His ruling Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009, and, though it holds a slim majority in the lower chamber, the opposition Liberal Democrats dominate the upper house, which has power to block legislation.
Noda in no rush
On Monday, Noda made it clear he is in no rush to head to the polls.
"In order to fulfill my responsibility for tomorrow, I cannot abandon jobs halfway to their completion," Noda said. "Let's stop the bad habit of taking the annual bond bill hostage and using it for political leverage."
Japan relies heavily on borrowing to fund its regular state spending. Its budget deficit has swollen to 10 percent.
The IMF says that next year Japan will owe the equivalent of 245 percent of its 5 trillion-yen annual gross domestic product. That is the highest level of borrowing among industrialized nations.
jr/ipj (Reuters, AFP)