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Prime Minister Naoto Kan is leading challenger Ichiro Ozawa as the Democratic Party of Japan’s presidential election campaign heads into the home stretch, according to the latest Kyodo News poll.

As of Friday, Kan, the current party president, was leading Ozawa among DPJ local assembly members as well as general supporters, although the two are running neck and neck among Diet members.

Ozawa, a former DPJ chief who was the party’s secretary general until June, will have to go all out to woo undecided Diet members and get those who are supporting Kan to defect.

Kyodo News compiled the results based on direct interviews with lawmakers and information from both camps.

Kan and Ozawa are fighting over 1,222 points divided between the DPJ’s 411 Diet members, 2,382 local assembly members across the country and around 340,000 general party supporters.

The votes of Diet members, worth two points each, will account for around 70 percent of the total.

Kan is seen having secured 585 points, far more than Ozawa’s 475.

Among Diet members, Kan appears set to secure 360 points, or 180 votes, slightly less than Ozawa’s 380 points, or 190 votes.

Kan has gained more than half of the 300 points among party supporters, while Ozawa has so far racked up only around 60 points. Kan is also leading among local assembly members, obtaining around 65 of the 100 points in that category.

Most mail-in voting by local assembly members and supporters has already been completed. The election will be finalized Tuesday.

The DPJ leadership contest will effectively select the next prime minister because the DPJ holds a majority in the more power Lower House.

LDP cooperation

The Liberal Democratic Party could work with the Democratic Party of Japan under the leadership of Prime Minister Naoto Kan if they can agree on steps to restore the country’s fiscal health, LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara said Friday.

Ishihara said the LDP’s policies are closer to those of Kan than his challenger, Ichiro Ozawa, and if Kan is re-elected the LDP could collaborate with the DPJ if the two parties share an understanding on how to mend the country’s finances.

Ishihara indicated he will ascertain Kan’s position on the matter during an upcoming extraordinary Diet session, saying, “I would like to question whether he really intends to rebuild public finances.”

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