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Around 30 Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers who are critical of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s management of the economy will launch a forum next week, the lawmakers said Tuesday.

Among nine senior LDP lawmakers who held a preparatory meeting Tuesday, Takao Fujii and Takeo Hiranuma hope to use the forum as a launchpad for their efforts to succeed Koizumi as LDP president and prime minister, LDP sources said.

Fujii, a former transport minister who ran unsuccessfully in September’s LDP presidential election, belongs to the party’s largest faction, led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

Hiranuma, a former minister of economy, trade and industry, is a member of a faction headed by Shizuka Kamei, who also tried unsuccessfully to unseat Koizumi in the LDP presidential race.

Taking the initiative in launching the forum for economic invigoration is Shin Sakurai, a close aide to Kamei.

Kamei, a former LDP policy chief, may be attempting to increase his clout within the faction and in the party itself, the sources said.

Lawmakers who took part in Tuesday’s meeting say they cannot support Koizumi’s economic policies because they are ruining rural economies.

Koizumi won a landslide victory in the LDP presidential election in September and is expected to remain in office until his term as LDP president expires in 2 1/2 years.

Participants in the new forum will include members of a faction that is led by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and that formerly included Koizumi. These Mori faction members may be attempting to exploit the forum to exert pressure on Koizumi and obtain better positions within his administration, the sources said.

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