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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Japan party to pull Iraq troops
Katsuya Okada, leader of Democratic Party of Japan - 9/8/05
DPJ leader Katsuya Okada has vowed to beat the ruling party
Japan's main opposition party has announced plans to pull troops out of Iraq and slash government spending if it wins the upcoming election.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) also said it would create an alternative to the Yasukuni war shrine, which has caused friction in Asia.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called a snap election for 11 September after he lost a key reform vote.

The DPJ hopes to capitalise on the ruling party's decline in popularity.

The DPJ election platform, announced on Tuesday, said the party would cut government spending by 10 trillion yen ($91.5bn).

Despite objecting to Mr Koizumi's plans for reforming the post office, the DPJ also said it had its own proposal to pare down Japan Post, with its $3 trillion assets, by lowering the cap on postal savings.

The ruling Liberal Democratic arty (LDP) countered that this would create more unemployment than Mr Koizumi's proposal.

War memorial

The DPJ said Japan's current troubled relationship with China was "one of the most important challenges" and said it would create a new national war memorial, without elaborating.

The memorial would be designed to end the controversy over the Yasukuni Shrine. Visits there by Japanese politicians incense China and South Korea because the shrine honours 14 convicted war criminals, along with other Japanese war dead.

The DPJ currently has 176 seats in the lower chamber, while the LDP had 249 before that chamber was dissolved.

Correspondents say the election could be close, in part because the LDP has reportedly barred 37 of its lower house members from standing for the party in the election, because they voted against Mr Koizumi's landmark postal reform bill.

One of the sidelined group, Shizuka Kamei, is considering forming a new party, according to Kyodo news agency.

Japan faces new political landscape
08 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Junichiro Koizumi
05 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Japan
14 Jun 05 |  Country profiles

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