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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi failed Thursday to make his “no faction” policy an official party strategy for the upcoming House of Councilors election.

In a ceremony to hand certificates of support to Liberal Democratic Party candidates, Koizumi only said, “I hope each of you will consider leaving your factions instead of relying on supporting organizations and lawmakers (mobilized by faction-led systems).”

He made the remark after meeting LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Mikio Aoki and other senior LDP members at party headquarters.

Koizumi originally wanted the LDP leadership to introduce his idea as an official party policy before the election slated for late July. But Upper House members such as Aoki have opposed it.

Shozo Harada, in charge of reforming the political system, agreed with Koizumi’s idea, attendees said.

But Aoki, who leads Upper House lawmakers from the LDP, was quoted as telling the meeting: “Collaboration and decision-making among Upper House members are unlike those among factions. Any proposals which interfere with our campaign policy would not be desirable.”

Koizumi insisted the LDP adopt a policy of encouraging candidates to work independently as this would be more agreeable to voters, they said.

But Koizumi and other members failed to reach a clear agreement.

The prime minister originally belonged to the party faction led by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori but left it when he filed his candidacy for party leadership in April to signal his determination to implement reforms.

Ministers to visit towns

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet will hold its first round of nationwide town meetings June 16 and June 17 after dispatching groups of ministers to northern and southern areas, government officials announced Thursday.

The first two meetings will be held in Aomori and Kagoshima prefectures on June 16, while Iwate and Kumamoto prefectures will host meets June 17, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a news conference.

Two ministers and two vice ministers from the Koizumi Cabinet will attend each meeting, Fukuda said. , adding that details including the ministers to be dispatched will be announced later.

Neither Koizumi nor Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, another popular figure, will appear at the events, according to the top government spokesman.

The government’s move corresponds to Koizumi’s pledge, which was made in his maiden policy speech at the Diet earlier this month, to hold town meetings in each of the nation’s 47 prefectures by November.

“We hope to hear various opinions regarding Koizumi Cabinet policies,” Fukuda said.

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