TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (search) said Monday that he will step down in September 2006 at the end of his term as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (search) even if his coalition wins upcoming elections.
Earlier this month, Koizumi dissolved the lower house of Parliament (search) and called elections after rebels in his own party helped the upper house reject legislation to privatize the postal service, the centerpiece of the premier's reformist program.
Koizumi, who's been prime minister since April 2001, has indicated his intention to step down at the end of his term but Monday's comment was the first of such kind since he called the elections, set for Sept. 11.
"I will fulfill my duties as prime minister and president of the LDP until September 2006, but I am not thinking of serving after that," he told a group of reporters.
The approval rating for Koizumi's Cabinet topped 50 percent in a series of newspaper polls taken after he called the elections.
Koizumi, in his second term, has been one of Japan's (search) longest-serving prime ministers.
The LDP has been in a ruling bloc with the smaller New Komeito Party. (search)