The lower house of the Japanese parliament has been dissolved, making way for a snap general election after the Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi lost a crucial vote on the center piece of his economic reform program. Mr. Koizumi's coalition partners say he wants the election to be held on the 11th of September, following the 17-vote defeat in the upper house of parliament for his plans to privatize the postal service.
Our correspondent William Horsley reports from Tokyo, “Mr. Koizumi says he will bar the 50 or so lower house members, about a fifth of the total, who had voted against the same bills in an earlier vote there, from standing again under the party’s banner. It’s now seen as virtually certain that most of the rebels would set up a new party with opposition to postal reform as one of its main goals. Mr. Koizumi made reform of the system one of his chief goals along with other modernizing economic reforms, when he came to power four years ago, so the coming election battle will be one between the pro and anti reform camps.”
There is confusion about whether Iran has resumed activities at its nuclear conversion plant in Isfahan. Iranian television has spoken of preparatory work, saying the International Atomic Energy Agency has installed surveillance cameras that will allow work to begin in a few days time at areas under its control......