Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Japanese Prime Minister To Resign Next Year

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi today said he will step down in September 2006 at the end of his term as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, even if the ruling coalition wins a majority in the forthcoming elections. Earlier this month, Koizumi dissolved the lower house of Parliament and called elections after rebels in his own party helped the upper house reject legislation to privatise the postal service, the centrepiece of the premier’s reformist program.
Koizumi, who has been prime minister since April 2001, has indicated his intention to step down at the end of his term, but today’s comment was the first of such kind since he called the elections, set for September 11. “I will fulfil my duties as prime minister and president of the LDP until September 2006, but I am not thinking of serving after that,” he said. The approval rating for Koizumi’s Cabinet topped 50% in a series of newspaper polls taken after he called the elections. Koizumi, in his second term, has been one of Japan’s longest-serving prime ministers. The LDP has been in a ruling bloc with the smaller New Komeito Party.