Japan's beleaguered Prime Minister Taro Aso on Thursday rejected calls for immediate polls as the opposition dismissed his plans to revive the ailing economy as no more than wishful thinking.
"As there is an unprecedented global financial crisis, I have been doing my best to compile economic measures and financing bills in order to protect people's lives and employment," Aso said in parliament.
"I will seek people's mandate at a due time in the future by making our differences from the opposition clear," he said.
Aso was replying to the demand for snap polls by senior opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama.
Hatoyama accused Aso of having "unfounded optimism" when the world's second largest economy is slipping into a deeper recession and thousands of people are losing jobs.
"I call this a political disaster," Hatoyama said.
Aso, who took office just four months ago, needs to hold an election by September next year and the resurgent opposition has been pressing the premier to dissolve the lower house as soon as possible.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been in power for all but 10 months since 1955. But its popularity has rapidly dwindled due to scandals, gaffes and concerns over the handling of the economy.
The LDP and its junior partner New Komeito this week enacted a stimulus budget that includes a controversial plan to give the public US$ 22 billion.