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Frustrated Prime Minister dissolves parliament, calls for new elections

Date Posted: 2005-08-17

Irritated over a stinging defeat of his measure to privatize the postal system, Japan’s Junichiro Koizumi has dissolved the lower house of the Diet and ordered new elections Sept. 11.

Koizumi, who was swept into office four years ago by promising massive economic reforms of the Japanese government system, had wanted the Japan Postal Service to be transformed into a set of four private companies as a move to slash costs and improve government efficiency. His plan met with disgruntled lawmakers, even from his own Liberal Democratic Party, and was voted down Monday.

With the lower house effectively turned out of office, politicians of all political stripe are scrambling to position themselves for the upcoming election, which could well lead to the demise of Koizumi’s administration. Each prefecture is now deciding on candidates, with Okinawa a step ahead.

Local politicians in Okinawa Prefecture anticipated the outcome of last week’s parliamentary vote and have already decided virtually all candidates in the running in the four election districts. Area One, which includes Naha and the southern islands including Kume, Tokashiki, Zamami, Aguni and the Miyako islands, is putting incumbent Rep. Seiji Nakamura on the slate. Mikio Shimoji, who was expelled from the LDP some months ago, is now running as an independent. The Komeito Party is fielding Ouiichi Shiraho. The fourth candidate is Seiken Akamine backed by a coalition of leftist parties including the Communist Party of Japan.

Urasoe, Ginowan, Chatan, Kadena, Yomitan and Nishihara, which comprise Election Area 2, are fronting Noboru Shimajiri of the Democratic Party of Japan, and Osamu Ashitomi, a current Prefecture Assembly member. Two others are still to be named.

A total of 15 candidates are to be in the running in Okinawa. A new Diet includes four from the local election areas, plus three nationwide proportional representatives.

Political observers say they’ve yet no idea how the ideological composition will change, but hope to begin hearing statements from the candidates in coming days.

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