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Japanese vote in key Tokyo polls
Tokyo, Jul 12 (Agencies):
Published on 12 Jul. 2009 11:42 PM IST
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People in Tokyo are voting in local polls considered a key test of popularity for Prime Minister Taro Aso. The polls in the capital come ahead of a general election which must be held by October. Taro Aso, whose Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has governed for almost all the past half-century, has approval hovering around 20%. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is hoping to break the LDP's grip on power. Voters are deciding who will sit on Tokyo's metropolitan assembly, but the stakes could be higher than that for Mr Aso. If his LDP does badly, moves to oust him from the leadership could intensify. In the run up to the vote in Tokyo candidates, wearing white gloves and sashes, toured the streets in vans using loudspeakers to campaign. Some candidates resorted to making speeches in front of deserted city car parks, their words echoing off the surrounding apartment blocks. The LDP has governed Japan for the past half century, except for a break of less than a year in the 1990s. But Mr Aso, who is the fourth prime minister since the last election to the more powerful lower house in 2005, has dismal approval ratings. The opposition DPJ hopes to take power in the next general election, which must be held by October. It is promising to break the grip of the bureaucracy on policy making, and increase social welfare measures. But the opposition's support has been eroded by fund raising scandals.

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