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DPJ's list of candidates shows strong determination to take power.

TOKYO, Aug. 13 Kyodo

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan on Friday released a list of 272 candidates it plans to field in the upcoming election, indicating a strong desire to take power from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's governing coalition.

The list includes 10 who were working until recently as career bureaucrats, and two who have been substituted at the last minute due to the party leadership's verdict that the previously planned candidates may turn out too weak to win in the Sept. 11 election.

The bureaucrats are expected to tell voters that they are fed up with the administration led by Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party and be useful immediately in the event the DPJ takes the reins of government, party campaign leaders said.

The list includes House of Councillors member Tsuyoshi Saito, who will rival Koizumi in his Kanagawa No. 11 constituency, the son of DPJ Vice President Hajime Ishii to fight against Takako Doi, a former head of the opposition Social Democratic Party, in the Hyogo No. 7 constituency where she is expected to run.

It also endorsed as a candidate Kozo Watanabe, a former lower house vice speaker who was an independent, and plans to add Katsuhiko Yokomitsu, who has left the SDP. It also unveiled a plan to back former LDP member Mikio Shimoji.

Aiming to obtain a majority in the House of Representatives on its own, Japan's largest opposition party plans to set up or back candidates in about 290 of Japan's 300 single-seat constituencies by expanding the list, DPJ election chief Koichiro Gemba said.

Having expanded its presence through the previous general election in November 2003, it had 175 members at the powerful chamber when it was dissolved Monday, against 249 of Koizumi's LDP.

Through the election next month, Koizumi is seen attempting to purge 37 LDP members who voted against his postal privatization bills last month, creating a deep rift within the LDP that may work to the DPJ's advantage.

The DPJ's list also features aspirants younger than those of the other parties, according to Gemba.

The average age of the 272 on the list is 47 as 35 percent of them are aged between 35 and 45, and they include 88 newcomers of average age 41, the party said. But the number of women is only 21.

In another development, the Japanese Communist Party released its second list of 28 candidates, bringing its tally of planned candidates to 268. But the party is likely to end up leaving more than 20 constituencies without JCP candidates in the coming race.

It is thought the absence of JCP candidates will help boost the DPJ in those districts, as voters will have no other choice in the opposition camp.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Aug 15, 2005
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