Prime Minister Taro Aso on Sunday came in for heavy media criticism over his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The premier also prepared for tough questioning in the Diet over the ailing economy and upcoming polls.
Local media criticized Aso for his performance in Davos, where he pledged 1.5 trillion yen in aid to other Asian nations.
Aso fumbled his keynote speech in Switzerland and referred to former British premier Tony Blair several times as "Tony Brown" -- an apparent mix-up with current Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"The premier remained the same in that he lacked carefulness," the Fuji TV network said.
"Prime Minister Aso is expected to remain in a situation which does not warrant optimism in both domestic politics and foreign affairs," TV Asahi noted.
The conservative Sankei was a bit more charitable, saying in its Internet edition that Aso may simply have become mixed up due to the fact that he was only in Switzerland for seven hours.
Aso -- who took office in late September and has seen his approval rating plummet since to less than 20% -- has repeatedly rejected calls for snap polls from the opposition, which controls the upper house of the Diet.
The opposition has denounced a stimulus package which the prime minister pushed through parliament last week to revive Asia's largest economy, calling it a waste of taxpayers' money that will not save Japan from the depths of recession.
On Monday, Aso will answer questions in the upper house, where the opposition's calls for snap polls are mounting.
Aso's Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition is expected to lose its majority in the lower house when Japan goes to the polls. The prime minister must call a general election by September.
The government's controversial economic stimulus package includes a plan to give the public two trillion yen in a bid to kickstart domestic spending, but the opposition says the coalition is trying to buy votes ahead of the elections.
The plan still needs to be backed by a separate bill to provide funding for the handout.
In Davos, Aso highlighted Japan's efforts to increase domestic demand with stimulus packages worth a total of 75 trillion yen, calling for other nations to adopt similar economic policies.
"I would like to close my remarks today by reiterating my strong belief that with firm will any difficulties can be overcome," Aso said.
But the influential Asahi newspaper said: "The gap between the premier's words and the plight of the Japanese economy is conspicuous."© Wire reports