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Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto indicated his desire June 19 to be re-elected head of the Liberal Democratic Party and stay on for another two-year term beyond the Sept. 30 end of his current term.

He was speaking at a press conference held shortly before he departed aboard a government jet for Denver, where he will attend a weekend summit of the Group of Seven countries and Russia. Hashimoto repeatedly said his mission is to address a variety of important issues until the end of his term in September, and that he “does not have room” to think about the future beyond that.

But he added that preparation for the election to select the LDP president should proceed “solemnly and in a natural way.” He added that he will “follow the decisions of my fellow LDP members.”

Hashimoto also reiterated his strong resolve to work on ongoing reforms in six areas such as changes to the administrative and fiscal systems, reforms that are unlikely to be completed before the end of September. Political analysts say that Hashimoto is certain to be re-elected because enough LDP lawmakers have already expressed their support for him in the wake of his political successes, which include Diet passage of key bills. No one is expected to challenge him.

The press conference was held in line with a custom that the prime minister meets the press at the end of an ordinary Diet session. The latest 150-day Diet session closed June 18.

Commenting on the grouping of ruling parties, Hashimoto said he “greatly appreciates” the cooperation which has been seen between the LDP and its non-Cabinet allies, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake. But he added that he is willing to cooperate with opposition parties on an issue-by-issue basis, just like the LDP did when it joined hands with Shinshinto and other opposition parties in extending the forced land leases for U.S. bases in Okinawa.

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