, TOKYO, July 21 – Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso offered a rare apology Tuesday for his gaffes and policy flip-flops as his divided ruling party prepares for a tough election late next month.
"My statements and what has been characterised as my changing policy positions have led the Japanese people to worry about and grow distrustful of politics," Aso told an assembly of his party’s lawmakers.
"As a result, the approval rating for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has fallen. I am deeply sorry," Aso said in the unexpected televised remarks, hours before parliament was to be formally dissolved ahead of the August 30 election.
Surveys point to a victory next month for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which would end more than half a century of almost unbroken LDP rule.
While reiterating his resolve to stay on as party leader, Aso acknowledged his failure to unite the faction-ridden LDP.