Japanese opposition leader strives to victory in elections

Democratic Party leader Katsuya Okada said on Thursday he was confident the good sense of voters would propel his party to power.

Okada is seeking to unseat Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party in elections on Sept. 11. The DPJ has 84 members in the 242-seat upper house, compared with 114 for the LDP and 24 for its coalition partner New Komeito. The next upper house election is scheduled in the summer of 2007.

“We don't need the upper house to pass the budget,” Okada said at a press luncheon in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. “As far as passing bills, the situation may well be severe. Of course, we will fail some. But even as an opposition party, we agree with about 70 percent of the legislation, so we'll be able to get some of what we want.”

Koizumi two weeks ago called for the lower house election after LDP rebels joined the DPJ to vote down a plan to sell Japan's postal system to investors. Japan Post is the world's largest savings bank with 350 trillion yen ($3.2 trillion) in assets, Bloomberg reminds.

Koizumi's LDP has an approval rating of 32 percent in a survey taken Aug. 22 and 23, while the DPJ's support rating is 11 percent, the Asahi newspaper said today.

In the latest sign of erosion in support for the Democratic Party, a poll by the Asahi newspaper found that just 13 percent of 1,000 voters surveyed on Aug. 22-23 planned to vote for the party, down from 17 percent in an Aug. 15-17 survey.

The percentage of respondents planning to vote for Koizumi's LDP also slipped, to 29 percent from 31 in the earlier survey, Reuters informs.

Forty-one percent were undecided, up from 34 percent.

The Democrats appear to be losing ground in urban areas, traditionally their stronghold.

Only 9 percent of big-city voters said they planned to vote for the party, down from 17 percent in the previous poll.

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