Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gave a strong hint Saturday that he will dissolve the House of Representatives in October, saying he will make a decision on the timing after taking into consideration Lower House by-elections scheduled for late October.

Campaigning for the by-elections will officially start on Oct. 14 and voting is scheduled to take place on Oct. 26, but the elections will be canceled if the Lower House is dissolved before election day.

“It’s about time that (the Lower House) is dissolved and a general election held,” Koizumi told a news conference following his sweeping victory in the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election.

The four-year term of current Lower House members runs through June, but it is widely expected that the chamber will be dissolved shortly after the lawmakers have begun the fourth year of their tenure.

Koizumi won a majority of both Diet members’ votes and local chapter votes in the presidential election. He won the most votes in 42 of the LDP’s 47 prefectural chapters, while collecting 54 percent of the votes cast by the party’s Diet members.

Three challengers to Koizumi were hoping to force a runoff poll, in which only Diet members can vote, held in the event none of the candidates wins a simple majority in the first round. They had hoped — vainly — that one of them would have a chance of toppling him by uniting the anti-Koizumi vote.

“Thanks to everyone, I was able to secure my re-election in the first vote,” Koizumi said. “I could not have asked for more.”

Commenting on the anticipated Cabinet reshuffle, Koizumi said he will stick to his style of appointing ministers based on his own beliefs and not accept recommendations from faction bosses — the traditional way adopted by most of his predecessors.

“I am aware of the criticism from fellow party members of my style,” Koizumi said. “But I will face it and form a Cabinet that can push ahead with my reform drive.”

Koizumi reiterated that continuing his structural reform measures is the only way to achieve economic recovery.

“If voters believe that the LDP has changed and become a party of reform, the LDP will surely win the next general election,” he said.

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