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Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto expressed firm determination Friday to have the ruling Liberal Democratic Party recover a majority in the House of Councilors in the election scheduled for July.”We should secure a majority in the Upper House to make it possible for us to take swift measures at a time when the nation’s economy and society are undergoing drastic changes,” Hashimoto said during the LDP’s annual convention, held at a Tokyo hotel.The LDP currently holds 120 seats in the 252-seat chamber. The party has regained a majority in the House of Representatives, not through an election victory but by picking up lawmakers from the now-defunct Shinshinto. Hashimoto, the LDP president, said the government’s current policy priority is to stabilize the nation’s financial markets and boost the economy.Although Hashimoto said his party hopes to maintain the present alliance, which consists of the LDP, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, he also said the LDP will seek new cooperative links with other parties, depending on issues. The remark differs considerably from what he said during last year’s convention, in which he said cooperation with the SDP and Sakigake was indispensable for the LDP.SDP leader Takako Doi, who appeared Friday at the convention as a guest, said the SDP strongly hopes the LDP will make an important decision to establish political ethics, indirectly referring to the party’s reluctance to ban donations from corporations and organizations to individual politicians. Sakigake chief Akiko Domoto, also a guest, said the LDP should agree with a proposal persistently made by Sakigake to strip the Finance Ministry of its financial market-related functions. The LDP has so far not offered any compromises on either of these demands.To come out on top in the July election, the LDP’s 1998 policy platform, which was adopted during the convention, says the party will promote further efforts to obtain wider public support, including from labor unions, many of which have long supported the LDP’s foes. The LDP last year managed to invite guests from 10 labor organizations to its convention — a first for the conservative party.

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