Japan opposition LDP remains election favorite: poll

TOKYO Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:54pm EST

Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference to announce the party's campaign platform for the December 16 lower house election, at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 21, 2012. REUTERS/Kyodo

Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference to announce the party's campaign platform for the December 16 lower house election, at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kyodo

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is holding its lead ahead of December 16 election, opinion polls showed on Monday, with the hawkish Japan Restoration Party (JRP) led by a nationalist former Tokyo governor coming second.

The Yomiuri daily poll showed that 25 percent of voters would choose the LDP, which is calling for aggressive monetary steps to end deflation, well ahead of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) 10 percent support.

The election for parliament's powerful lower house is unlikely to fix a policy stalemate that has plagued Japan as it struggles with an ageing population, a declining manufacturing sector and the emerging power of China.

Fourteen percent of voters planned to vote for the new Japan Restoration Party, led by 80-year-old Shintaro Ishihara and popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

Ishihara, the outspoken former Tokyo governor who sparked a territorial row with China with plans to buy a group of disputed islands, was seen as a more suitable government leader than Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, according to Yomiuri's survey.

But LDP opposition leader Shinzo Abe kept his individual lead with 29 percent of voter support.

The election is expected to usher in a period of confusing coalition politics because of the emergence of new parties and because whoever wins will still lack a majority in parliament's upper house, which can block bills.

With many Japanese disillusioned with politics, 37 percent of respondents to the Yomiuri poll said they were undecided. Surveys by other media, the Asahi newspaper and Kyodo news agency, showed similar results.

The DPJ swept to power in 2009 ending more than a half a century of nearly non-stop LDP rule. But its support slumped over what voters saw as broken promises, a confused response to last year's tsunami and nuclear crisis, and Noda's unpopular policies such as a tax hike and the restart of nuclear reactors.

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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