Japan's LDP party releases manifesto

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has unveiled its manifesto for the 11 September general election.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has made clear that his post office privatization bill will be the party's main platform.

But much interest is also focused on the so-called celebrity candidates the party has attracted to run against anti-reformers.

One of the most controversial is an internet entrepreneur who is just 32.

Takafumi Horie is no shrinking violet. He recently published a book called Earning Money is Everything, From Zero to 10bn Yen My Way.

He hit the headlines when he tried to take over a large Japanese media group, reports BBC.

"I want to test my desire not to see reform halted," Horie, told reporters at LDP headquarters after meeting Koizumi.

"This is the first time for me to stand, so I wanted to test myself as an independent," he added, explaining why he rejected formal backing from the LDP.

Koizumi called a Sept. 11 election for parliament's lower house after members of the LDP old guard helped to defeat bills to privatize the postal system, the pillar of his reform agenda.

Koizumi has said he wants to make the election a referendum on privatizing Japan Post, a sprawling business empire with more than $3 trillion in assets, as well as on his broader reforms.

Shortly after Horie ended days of speculation about his candidacy, the LDP unveiled its platform, pledging to enact the postal privatization bills in the next session of parliament.

The party also promised to downsize government by enacting regulatory reforms, opening up government enterprises to the private sector and reducing civil service personnel costs.

The opposition Democratic Party is also pledging to create a smaller government and argues that only it can achieve real reform, informs Reuters.

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