• Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Reports

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Economic and fiscal policy minister Heizo Takenaka declared victory Sunday, with media polls showing he was set to win a seat in the House of Councilors.

Takenaka, chief architect of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reform policies, ran in the proportional representation section on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket.

“I believe voters gave support to (Koizumi’s) reforms of the past three years,” Takenaka said at his election office in Tokyo. “I have been a minister to push for financial and fiscal reform, but now as a Diet member, I would like to also work on other reforms, including that on social security.”

During the 17-day campaign, the 53-year-old former Keio University professor sought voters’ support for his first election bid and for further structural reforms.

He apparently succeeded in winning support among a wide range of voters, particularly nonaffiliated urbanites.

Takenaka joined Koizumi’s administration when it was launched in April 2001, serving as economic and fiscal policy minister. He has served concurrently as financial services minister since September 2002.

Takenaka’s win will probably give Koizumi’s reform drives momentum as Takenaka will gain a greater voice in politics than before.

Meanwhile, veteran LDP lawmaker Mikio Aoki was set to retain his seat in the Shimane electoral district.

Aoki, 70, leader of the LDP caucus in the Upper House, was backed by New Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner.

Aoki was a close aide to the late Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, to whom he became an aide after helping his election campaigns while a student at Waseda University.

Mizuho Fukushima, chief of the Social Democratic Party, whose influence has been waning in recent years, looked set to hold on to her seat in the chamber.

The 48-year-old politician, a lawyer by profession, was seeking a second six-year term. She was running on the proportional representation list, from which she was first elected in 1998.

Fukushima’s apparent victory came as welcome news for the SDP, which has been struggling to ensure its survival since the party suffered a major setback in November’s Lower House election.

Then party chief Takako Doi lost in a single-seat constituency but retained a seat through the proportional representation list. She subsequently resigned as party leader.

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