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Japanese PM talks tough at convention

JAPANESE Prime Minister Taro Aso came out swinging at his party's annual convention yesterday, vowing to overcome political opposition and pass economic measures despite plummeting popularity that could see the party lose its nearly six-decade grip on power.

The main opposition party immediately fired back, promising at its own convention later yesterday to seize control of the government in this year's elections.

In a speech at the yearly gathering of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Aso used tough talk, saying his party would work to enact his financial legislation ?? which has been repeatedly criticized by the opposition and has proven unpopular with the general public.

Aso's plans to revive the economy include a record-high budget and a controversial scheme to give a cash handout to every Japanese household to spur spending.

"We will lead the charge against the current crisis, first by fighting with all of our strength to enact the economic measures," he said.

At the convention of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, however, leader Ichiro Ozawa promised the end was near for the ruling party. Ozawa would likely be selected as the next prime minister if his party won a majority in parliament, and polls show he has more support among voters.

"We will win the lower house election and create a new government," he said.

The conventions were held as polls show approval of Aso's administration has fallen to 20 percent, leading analysts to say his days are numbered and emboldening the Democrats. Generally in Japan, a 30-percent approval rate is seen as the lowest sustainable level for an administration.

The Liberal Democrats have control of the powerful lower house of Japan's parliament. But the Democrats have a majority in the weaker upper house, and have used it to impede much of the prime minister's key legislation.


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