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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
Japan: 'No pain, no growth'
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the start of a ceremony to open the prime minister's new official residence in Tokyo, 22 April 2002.
Junichiro Koizumi does not want to bow down to his party's old guard
Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has vowed to press ahead with painful reforms designed to create economic growth, despite growing discontent.

"No pain, no growth. No pain, no gain," Mr Koizumi told the Financial Times newspaper.


The only thing that has changed is the approval rating for my administration

Junichiro Koizumi
Mr Koizumi dismissed claims he was being forced to slow his reform agenda and vowed to press ahead with plans to speed up the disposal of bad loans and reduce the power of the state sector.

"One thing I will stick to is steadily carrying through the structural reform policy that I've maintained," he said.

"The policy I've been advocating since I took office on day one has not changed. The only thing that has changed is the approval rating for my administration."

Tide turning

Just one year after being swept to office on a wave of public euphoria, Mr Koizumi's political fortunes are at a low ebb.

His approval rating has fallen below 50%, and few now see him as the man to rescue Japan from economic stagnation.

A key part of Mr Koizumi's election promise was to revive an economy that has been entrenched in a deep recession.

But his plans for privatisation have been highly contentious and caused a rift within his own Liberal Democratic party.

Privatisation goals

Despite the opposition, Mr Koizumi refused to admit that the reform plans are being watered down.

"The biggest objective that my Cabinet has set itself is to leave to the private sector what the private sector can do," he said.

Mr Koizumi also set himself a two year deadline to implement his promised reforms.

Over the next 12 months, he prioritised three goals: to accelerate the disposal of non-performing loans; dissolve the state housing loan corporation; and pass legislation for privatising the post office.

See also:

25 Apr 02 | Media reports
Koizumi at the crossroads
26 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi heads for showdown
23 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi, one year on
23 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Koizumi's first year
26 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Tables turn on Japan's trouble shooter
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