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Japan's Hata resigns

By MICHAEL DI CICCO

TOKYO, June 25 -- Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata resigned Saturday along with his rickety coalition government after being unable to stitch together an alliance with the opposition socialists to defeat a looming no-confidence vote. The resignation -- the second in two months by a Japanese prime minister -- unleashed a wave of maneuvering among political parties to lure backing for their candidates in a parliamentary vote expected as soon as Monday to choose a replacement.

Political experts said there was a chance Hata could emerge from the chaos with enough support to return to office. 'I warn you not to count him out,' said Roger Buckley, a expert at International Christian University. 'But noone knows what is going to happen.'NEWLN:

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nalysts said the uncertainty, however short-term, would hamper Japan's ability to work with its economic partners on issues from trade to security to halting a slide in the value of the U.S. dollar.

Hata announced his resignation in an emergency news briefing, saying without socialist support his two-month-old minority government was bound to lose the no-confidence vote and he wanted to step down rather than plunge the country into extended political turmoil by calling snap elections.

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'If I chose to dissolve Parliament, we would have had a political vacuum for more than a month but we shouldn't create such a situation now when we are facing many difficult issues,' he said. 'It is an urgent task to form a stable government.'

His announcement came less than an hour before a no-confidence motion tabled by the leading opposition Liberal Democratic Party was to be put to a vote in the Diet, the Japanese Parliament. Following the move, the vote was canceled.

Hata had scrambled for two days to lure socialist support to foil the no-confidence motion submitted by the LDP, which ruled Japan for 38 years before being ousted in elections it was forced to call last year.

The socialists, who held the swing votes that would have decided the no-confidence motion, said they would work to form a new government with the parties in Hata's coalition.

The group had been a founding member of the coalition but abandoned the administration hours after helping Hata into office April 25 in the wake of the shock resignation of his predecessor, Morihiro Hosokawa.NEWLN: pickup 11thgraf: During the

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