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Tuesday, 9 May, 2000, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Japan fixes election date

Yoshiro Mori was catapulted to power in April
Japan is set to hold a general election on 25 June, according to reports.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori will dissolve the lower house on 2 June and campaigning for the election will start on 13 June, Kyodo news agency said.

Obuchi
Mr Obuchi shortly before his stroke

Mr Mori took over the post of prime minister last month after his predecessor, Keizo Obuchi, suffered a stroke.

He had been considered likely to call general elections for 25 June - Mr Obuchi's birthday - to capture sympathy votes and take advantage of signs that the economy is picking up.

The three coalition parties - the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the New Komeito Party and the New Conservative Party - endorsed the election schedule on Tuesday, Kyodo said, quoting a senior LDP official.

Economy

Mr Obuchi, who suffered a stroke in the early hours of 2 April, remains in a coma, according to Mr Mori's spokesman.

He had intended to remain in office until October, hoping to revive the country's sluggish economy in a bid to win over voters.

Japan's economy technically slipped into a recession in late 1999, but analysts believe it returned to growth early this year.

Gross domestic product data for the first quarter will be released on about 10 June - in time to give the governing coalition a boost at the polls.

The coalition holds 336 seats in the 500 seat lower house, with 268 in the hands of the LDP.

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See also:

05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
New Japanese PM chosen
05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Yoshiro Mori
04 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's workaholic culture
04 Apr 00 | Media reports
Media spotlight on Obuchi's illness
04 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Keizo Obuchi
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