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Japan PM says forecast of election loss premature
Updated: 2009-08-24 14:50

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso tried Sunday to downplay recent polls predicting heavy losses for his party in parliamentary elections a week away.

Japan PM says forecast of election loss premature
Japanese Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Taro Aso campaigns for the upcoming election in Tokyo August 18, 2009.[Agencies] 

A poll by Kyodo News agency projected Sunday that the opposition Democratic Party of Japan could win more than 300 of the 480 lower house seats in the August 30 elections. That would allow it to comfortably unseat the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which has dominated Japan's politics for most of the last half century.

Appearing on national television programs Sunday, Aso said a lot could change in a week.

Support levels for the Liberal Democrats are "trending upward," he told public broadcaster NHK. "The situation can totally change in a day or two. We will keep reaching out to voters with our policies."

The Democratic Party, which won control of the less powerful upper house in 2007, had 112 seats in the lower chamber before parliament was dissolved July 21. The Liberal Democrats, a conservative party that has traditionally represented big business and rural voters, held 300 seats.

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A separate poll Thursday by the Asahi newspaper predicted similar losses for the ruling party, but both polls noted a large number of undecided voters.

Democratic Party President Yukio Hatoyama, who would likely become prime minister if his party wins control of the lower house, vowed not to become complacent in the final stretch of the campaign.

"It seems to be too good," Kyodo quoted Hatoyama as saying. "I feel it's unrealistic. If you're caught off guard, everything will change."

The Kyodo poll was based on responses from 155,148 eligible voters in a national telephone survey conducted Thursday through Saturday. It did not give a margin of error.

The ruling party has watched its support plummet because of the fragile economy, increasing unemployment, a perceived lack of leadership and its support of higher taxes.

Aso, who is the party's president, is widely seen as a weak leader with a tendency for gaffes and indecisiveness. Recent polls have showed his support rating at less than 20 percent.