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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 16:29 GMT
Japan PM warns of party 'crisis'
Yasuo Fukuda, file image
Mr Fukuda admitted his government had had a shaky start
Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has warned that his governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is facing the biggest crisis in its history.

The LDP has held a majority in parliament for almost all of the past 50 years, but a string of controversies and bad poll results have shaken it.

Speaking at the party's convention, Mr Fukuda promised to restore the party's fortunes by bringing economic growth.

He also called for more co-operation with the opposition Democratic Party.

"I am painfully aware that you must all feel voters' lack of trust in politics and dissatisfaction with the LDP on a daily basis," he told delegates at the Tokyo convention.

"The way to fulfil people's expectations is to use the ruling party's power to bring economic growth to every area of the country," he said.

Mr Fukuda took office in September after his predecessor Shinzo Abe resigned, following disastrous upper house polls which left the opposition in control of the chamber.

The election defeat followed the government's embarrassing mismanagement of the pension system.

And Mr Fukuda was immediately put under pressure as Japan's mandate to refuel US warships involved in the Afghanistan conflict ran out.

He pledged to pass a law renewing it, but faced intense opposition from Democratic Party lawmakers.

After months of deadlock, Mr Fukuda forced through the law last week using a rarely-used power.

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