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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed hope Monday that his Liberal Democratic Party’s strong showing in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election would lead to another victory in the Upper House election next month.

Tokyo voters on Sunday gave Koizumi’s LDP 53 of the 127 seats in the capital’s assembly, raising the party five seats above its pre-election strength of 48.

Languishing just two months ago under then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, the LDP was demoralized and facing the prospect of a major loss in the Upper House election in July.

Sunday’s victory, however, was taken as a sign that the “Koizumi effect” has breathed new life into the party and rescued it from almost certain defeat, based largely on the reform policies of the highly popular leader.

‘I was hoping to break down the common view that the LDP performs poor in big cities,” Koizumi told reporters Monday morning. “We hope to keep this momentum going toward the Upper House race.”

The LDP has been taking severe losses in recent Diet elections, especially in urban constituencies.

Relieved to see his party winning more seats than it targeted — a minimum of 50 — in the assembly, Koizumi said the LDP may field more candidates than originally planned for the Upper House election.

Koizumi flatly denied speculation, however, that he would dissolve the Lower House and call a snap general election to coincide with the Upper House poll.

The next Lower House election must take place before 2004.

New Komeito, one of the LDP’s coalition partners in the Diet, captured 23 seats — the same number that it fielded — to become the second-largest force in the assembly.

In contrast, the opposition camp turned in a mixed performance, with some parties suffering dismal losses and others gaining less than they had originally hoped for.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, won 22 seats, up from 13 before the election. Nevertheless, the gain was still short of its earlier, pre-Koizumi expectations.

The Japanese Communist Party won only 15 seats, losing 11 from its pre-election strength. Conceding defeat, JCP leader Kazuo Shii attributed the LDP’s victory to Koizumi’s sky-high popularity.

The voting was closely watched as a prelude to next month’s Diet election. It was also being followed as an indicator of whether the Koizumi effect would carry over to local elections.

It apparently did.

Voter turnout was 50.08 percent, up 9.28 percentage points from the record low of 40.8 percent in the 1997 metropolitan assembly election.

Absentee voters also made a strong showing, sending in 404,241 ballots, or 2.93 times more than received in the previous election, the officials said. ,jtsub12 19 women win seats A record 19 women won seats in Sunday’s Tokyo metropolitan poll, as one local party saw all six candidates in its all-female lineup elected.

“With campaigns generally stopping short of focusing on issues, people accepted our calls for a Tokyo for living in and vigor for Tokyoites,” said Masako Ogawara, leader of the Tokyo Seikatsusha Network.

The party doubled its representation in the assembly from three seats before the poll.

Five of the other female winners are from the Japanese Communist Party, three from the Democratic Party of Japan, two from the Liberal Democratic Party, and one from New Komeito. Two are independents.

The 19 women elected broke the previous record of 17 set in the 1989 assembly election.

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