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Friday, May 19, 2006

Koizumi mum on successor favorite


Staff writer

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated Thursday that he will name ahead of the September Liberal Democratic Party election who he plans to vote for to succeed him as party president.

Koizumi, whose LDP presidency ends in September, has said his successor should be someone who can keep pressing forward with structural reforms and lead the party to victory in national elections.

"I will (say who I'll vote for) once all the candidates have tossed their hats into the ring," Koizumi told reporters in confirming he had told top business executives over dinner Wednesday night that he would make his pick public.

Political insiders say such an announcement by the popular party president could influence the result of the high-profile election, the winner of which is virtually assured the prime ministership.

But Koizumi himself was unperturbed, stressing that his actions would not signify any official nomination of a successor.

Recent opinion polls have constantly shown Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe at the top of popularity ratings as a candidate to succeed Koizumi, and Yasuo Fukuda, the former chief Cabinet secretary, is ranked second, although neither has officially announced plans to run.

Also Thursday, Koizumi rejected speculation that the party will shorten the official campaign period for the presidential election. In the last race, the period between the formal start of campaigning and the election day was 12 days, as the party's rules dictate.



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The Japan Times

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