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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
Japan's Koizumi secures victory
Voting at a Tokyo polling station
The poll is a vote of confidence for Mr Koizumi
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling coalition has easily retained its majority in the upper house elections, the first major test of the new leader's mandate.

The three-party coalition, led by Mr Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), secured 78 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the 247-seat house.

We have reached the goal of winning the majority for the coalition and I feel very relieved

Junichiro Koizumi
Mr Koizumi said the coalition had done better than expected, adding that the vote was a mandate for his radical reform programme.

He said he would not be making any changes to his cabinet following the election.

"We have reached the goal of winning the majority for the coalition and I feel very relieved," he said.

Coalition seats
LDP - 64
Komei Party - 13
Conservatives - 1
"The number of seats matters because we are the party supporting reform, and I expect the winners will work as the driving force of our reforms."

The LDP has recently lost support, particularly in rural areas, but the prime minister himself is hugely popular with voters.

Opposition worries

Full official results will not be available until late on Monday morning.

Junichiro Koizumi
Koizumi faces resistance within his own party

The opposition was disappointed by the outcome.

"Unfortunately, it seems we are not going to make our biggest goal of forcing the ruling coalition to lose the majority," said Democratic Party spokesman Naoto Kan.

"Mr Koizumi was hugely popular."

Throughout the election campaign the opposition found itself struggling to divert public attention from the charismatic Mr Koizumi.

He has already warned the nation that the changes will be painful, with cutbacks in public spending and higher unemployment as a first step.

Battle ahead

Since Mr Koizumi assumed office in April, there has been resistance to his proposals not only from the opposition but from conservative factions within his own party as well.

Another plunge on the Tokyo stock market
Japan's economy is in need of drastic reform

The LDP is deeply conservative and the BBC Tokyo correspondent Charles Scanlon says the real battle is expected to begin after the election, when Mr Koizumi is forced to confront faction leaders in his own party.

"This election will test whether the Liberal Democratic Party can support the Koizumi cabinet and carry out bold reform," Mr Koizumi himself said.

But Mr Koizumi remains convinced that despite resistance from within his party he will be able to push the reforms through.

"The LDP will co-operate, the people who oppose me are few, I believe the resistance will change to co-operation," he said.

Despite high interest in the election, turnout was lower than the last upper house election in 1998.

The government said that as of 1930 (1030 GMT) on Sunday 47.2% of nearly 102 million eligible voters had cast ballots - down from 50.8% at the same time in 1998.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"The message from voters is open to interpretation"
Liberal Democratic Party's Ichita Yamamoto
says the LDP could split over Koizumi's controversial reforms
Democratic Party vice president Hajimo Ishii
says Koizumi will not be able to sustain popular support
Seijiro Takeshita, Mizuho International
"He's actually helped elect people who might be against his reform"
See also:

30 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi's mandate for reform
30 Jul 01 | Business
Markets fall after Koizumi's victory
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Junichiro Koizumi
26 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi winning popularity stakes
11 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi to honour war dead
12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Suicide bid at Koizumi rally
07 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi outlines vision for reform
25 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese PM's party wins Tokyo election
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi hails 'peaceful revolution'
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asian fears over new Japanese leader
28 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan leader seeks reform mandate
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