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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi affirmed Sunday his determination to reform the current practice of earmarking some tax revenue exclusively for road-related projects.

Stumping for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party ahead of the June 24 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, Koizumi said, “It is a misery for local communities that (the so-called road-only tax revenue) cannot be allotted for education, welfare and environmental issues.

“By saying ‘revision’ of the tax revenue, I mean that the money must be used for purposes other than road construction and maintenance, purposes for which the revenue can be used more effectively.”

Many senior members of the LDP support the 48-year-old practice of allotting revenue — such as that levied on oil trade or vehicle weight — for road-related projects across the nation.

Koizumi previously announced his plan to review the practice, but had suggested he would not cite details of possible new purposes for the revenue before the poll.

Koizumi’s remarks Sunday will likely bring another conflict between the self-confident party president and other members in leadership. Many municipalities have also voiced opposition to a swift revision since such projects ensure jobs in local communities and strengthen bonds between powerful national lawmakers and distant municipalities.

The earmarked revenue amounted to 5.8 trillion yen in fiscal 2000, which ended in March.

Meanwhile, Koizumi campaigned Sunday at 10 locations in mainly the eastern part of Tokyo to support candidates from his party, drawing crowds of listeners.

A candidate campaigning in front of Ayase station in Adachi Ward, where Koizumi campaigned in the afternoon, said, “There are more than 5,000 people. It is the first time so many people have gathered.”

When Koizumi appeared, listeners cheered loudly, “It’s Koizumi,” and “Go!” Koizumi said, “I am not a movie star, but if so many people become interested (in politics), then politics will change.”

Three high school students in uniforms were among the crowd, and one of them said, “He is much nicer looking than my father.”

A 70-year-old man said, “If we don’t move ahead with financial reforms now, then Japan will collapse. Koizumi will do it for us.”

In Sumida Ward, the audience cheered as the prime minister sang a verse from a song by “X Japan,” a disbanded rock group that Koizumi is fond of.

A 64-year-old woman who runs an “okonomiyaki” — Japanese-style pancake — restaurant that has a poster of Koizumi hanging inside, said, “I could only see people’s heads, but I am happy because I could hear his voice.”

Meanwhile, Naoto Kan, secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, campaigned in eight areas in the Tama district of western Tokyo.

Shortly after noon, about 400 people gathered in front of the Tachikawa Station where Kan said, “Resisting forces against the prime minister are within the LDP. If the LDP wins, then those forces will grow stronger.” The crowd surrounded Kan and shook his hands.

A 50-year-old company employee who came with his wife to listen to Kan said, “An opposing force that checks against Koizumi’s popularity is necessary.”

Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa campaigned at seven locations, Social Democratic Party leader Takako Doi at five locations, while Japanese Communist Party Presidium Chairman Kazuo Shii and New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki each campaigned at three locations.

Official campaigning kicked off Friday for the election — the first large-scale poll since the inauguration of Koizumi’s government in late April.

On June 24, vote-counting will begin after polls close at 8 p.m., and the general makeup of the assembly is expected to be known later in the day.

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