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Strong lead for Koizumi on poll-eve

Tokyo, Sept. 10 (Reuters): Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s ruling party held onto its solid lead on the eve of Japan’s election, an opinion poll showed today, making the question not whether he would win, but by how much.

A resounding victory would strengthen Koizumi’s grip on power and allow him to forge ahead with reforms, starting with the privatisation of the postal system, opposition to which from within his own party prompted him to call the snap election. Koizumi has cast the election as a referendum on postal privatisation ' a symbol of his broader agenda for change.

“I hope the majority of the people will surely make a judgment that the post office can be run by the private sector,” Koizumi told a packed hall in central Tokyo late today.

“Lawmakers don’t serve the interests of particular groups, they must serve the interests of the people,” he added, as many in the crowd snapped photos with their cell phones and took video of Koizumi.

Thirty per cent of respondents to the survey, which was published by the daily Asahi Shimbun, said they would vote for Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the proportional representation (PR) section of the election, 11 percentage points ahead of the main Opposition Democratic Party.

The election combines single-seat districts where voters select a candidate, and PR blocs where they back a party. The Asahi figures showed that the Democrats have failed to turn a tide which has run overwhelmingly in favour of the maverick Koizumi.

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