Japanese PM Koizumi confident in polls

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed confidence Tuesday that his party will win next month's nationwide elections, despite plans to purge it of veteran lawmakers opposed to his economic agenda and eroding public support. Japan's markets, dogged by political uncertainty, will breathe a sigh of relief if Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi emerges a winner from the political melee that has prompted him to call a snap election, a survey showed on Tuesday.

A day earlier, upper house defectors from Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party rejected his cherished plan to privatize Japan Post's staggeringly rich savings account system, a decade-long quest for the leader. Koizumi retaliated by saying next month's poll would be a public referendum on his reforms and that the LDP would remove opponents of the plans from the ticket, CNN reminds. "I believe many Japanese people will vote for postal privatization in the upcoming elections," Koizumi told reporters a day after he dissolved Parliament's lower house and called snap elections for its 480 seats on Sept. 11.

The move effectively splits the LDP into two camps and opens a door for the Democratic Party, Japan's biggest opposition group, to improve its standing and possibly form a ruling coalition. The LDP had been in a ruling bloc with the smaller New Komeito Party.

Koizumi has pledged to retire if his ruling coalition fails to grab another majority after almost 50 years of uninterrupted power.

"I want to do all I can so that the Liberal Democratic and Komeito parties can take up a majority," he said.

About 53 percent of Japanese surveyed said they would back Koizumi in disbanding the assembly if the upper house voted down his reforms, according to Mainichi newspaper poll last month. Only 36 percent opposed dissolving Parliament.

In 1993, the split resulted in the LDP's first loss of governance, though shortly, after the World War II. And the LDP has since been ruling Japan in alliance with other parties.

The New Komeito, which has been the LDP's ally, may not necessarily stand firmly with it in the election. Its secretary general indicated in July that the party might cooperate with other parties, Xinhua reports.

The LDP alone has a majority in the lower house, but not in the upper house.

Analysts said that Koizumi would intend to exert his personal image to help his party to secure a majority in the general election expected on Sept. 11. However, recent Japanese media surveys have showed that his support rates were drifting at about 40 percent.

On the other hand, the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan has been gaining on in political influence, raising predictions that there could be a two-party system in Japan in a few years.

Following the dissolution of the lower house, DPJ leader Katsuya Okada called on party members to fight gallantly for the formation of a single-party regime by the DPJ.

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