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The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"The Democrats made big gains in the cities"
 real 28k

The BBC's Audrey Tinline
"It was a night of celebration for both sides in this election"
 real 28k

Charles Scanlon in Tokyo
"Divisions over the need for structural reforms are expected to resurface"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 June, 2000, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Mori survives election setback
Opposition parties
Opposition made big gains, but failed to remove the government
Leaders of the ruling coalition in Japan which won Sunday's election have said they will retain Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori as their leader.

The three coalition parties all suffered big losses, but did retain their majority.

Yoshiro Mori
Good news for Yoshiro Mori

Mr Mori is expected to be officially confirmed in office when parliament votes on 4 July.

He told a news conference he wanted to keep the Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and the Foreign Minister Yohei Kono in his cabinet.

Mr Mori's Liberal Democrats (LDP), which has ruled Japan with only one 10-month break since its formation in 1955, lost its overall majority.

It now depends on two coalition partners to retain power in the lower house - the Buddhist-backed Komeito Party and the Conservative Party.

The coalition won 271 seats, exceeding the 254 needed to control committees in the 480-member chamber.

Low turnout helped the ruling coalition

The LDP itself won 233 seats, slightly above its 229 seat target, but well short of the 54% it had held before the election.

The main opposition Democratic Party took advantage of coalition losses, winning 127 seats - an increase of 32.

Party leader Yukio Hatoyama described the result as a great leap forward.

Turn-out in the election was low - something which correspondents say helped the coalition to maintain its parliamentary majority.

Bold reforms unlikely

But the victory is expected to lead to further confusion over economic policy, with divisions over the need for structural reforms likely to resurface.

On the eve of the election, Mr Mori was widely criticised for saying he hoped the great mass of undecided voters would not bother to vote.

Yuko Obuchi
Yuko Obuchi, daughter of the late prime minister, stood for office

Our correspondent says the comment betrayed his unease about a potential protest vote in the big cities over Japan's economic stagnation.

Analysts say that, in the event, high unemployment and the weak economic recovery may have induced many people to opt for the status quo, rather than risk an even more uncertain future.

Mr Mori was swept into the top job in April after his predecessor, the late Keizo Obuchi, suffered a stroke.

His popularity slumped after a string of comments suggesting he was nostalgic for Japan's wartime militarism.

Opposition leaders raised doubts about whether he was intellectually up to leading the world's second-largest economy.

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See also:

26 Jun 00 | Media reports
Japanese press sees no real winner
21 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan row over sleepy voters
23 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Obuchi's daughter to run in elections
16 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Last respects for Obuchi
04 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mori makes new gaffe
17 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan radioactive letter arrest
26 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan polls: No great victory
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