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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday he has no plan to dissolve the House of Representatives and call a snap election this year, and pledged to employ all possible measures to fight deflation.

In a start-of-the-year news conference at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Koizumi denied widespread speculation that the next poll will be held this summer.

He said he realizes that Lower House members are gearing up for the next election, now that 2 1/2 years have passed since the last poll.

“I have been elected 10 times and have served 30 years, but there has been only one election that was held after a full (four-year) term,” Koizumi said.

“But I have no intention of dissolving (the Lower House) this year.”

Diet members widely expect an election sometime this year, ahead of the mandated June 2004. Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Taku Yamasaki said Sunday that it may be held just before the LDP presidential election in September, when Koizumi’s term as the party head expires.

Koizumi denied, however, that a snap election will be held around that time, saying there is no need to dissolve the Lower House because the LDP alone holds a majority in the chamber, while its coalition partners — New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — have promised to continue cooperating with the Koizumi administration.

On the sagging economy, Koizumi vowed to maintain his reform drive in the new year, reiterating his belief that there will be no economic recovery unless banks dispose of their bad loans, even if this leads to more corporate failures in the short term.

To fight deflation, Koizumi said he will use “all possible policies in cooperation with the Bank of Japan,” suggesting an inflation-targeting policy may be an option to stop a further price fall.

Koizumi repeated that a successor to BOJ Gov. Masaru Hayami, whose five-year term expires in March, should be someone committed to fighting deflation and able to implement effective policies.

On stalled talks with North Korea, Koizumi said Japan will closely cooperate with the U.S., South Korea, Russia and China to continue pressing Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program.

He said North Korea will be a key agenda topic in his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visits Russia from Thursday to Sunday.

“Russia has diplomatic relations with North Korea and has considerable influence on the country,” Koizumi said. “The nuclear issue will be especially important to discuss with Russia.”

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