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KAZAKHSTAN

President Nazarbayev allows early election

MOSCOW | The long-ruling leader of Kazakhstan on Thursday signed into law a measure allowing early presidential elections ahead of the scheduled vote in 2012.

The measure President Nursultan Nazarbayev endorsed allows for an election with only two months’ notice, according to the state news agency Kazinform.

Mr. Nazarbayev has led Kazakhstan since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. He has tried to project a democratic image, despite detractors accusing him of corruption and undemocratic practices. The parliament has no opposition members.

JAPAN

Support drop clouds premier’s budget TOKYO | Support for the government of Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has slipped back below 30 percent, reducing its chances of winning approval of a workable budget and for measures to cut the huge public debt.

With such low ratings in opinion polls, analysts said, they doubted Mr. Kan would risk caving in to demands to call a snap election.

But they said the opposition would now be even less likely to back his efforts to craft tax and social security reforms to pay for the rising costs of a quickly aging population and slash public debt twice the size of the $5 trillion economy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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