He took a huge political gamble – and it has more than paid off.
Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has won a stunning general election victory, according to exit polls.
They point to a landslide that would give him the mandate he needs to press ahead with economic reforms – notably the privatisation of the post office.
His main opponent Katsuya Okada has recognized his opposition Democratic Party did not get its message across. Victory for Koizumi will be warmly welcomed in Washington, where he is seen as a staunch ally for backing the US-led war on Iraq.
The premier risked his career by calling the election, which he presented as a referendum on his reform agenda.
He asked the people to decide after colleagues in his own Liberal Democratic Party helped block the post office privatisation plan.