TABLE-Japan opposition LDP keeps lead before vote - poll

TOKYO Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:06am GMT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) maintained its lead over the ruling party, a public opinion poll showed on Sunday, strengthening its case to reclaim control of the government in a December election after a three-year absence.

Of those surveyed, 26 percent said they would vote for the LDP in a lower house election scheduled for December 16, while 13 percent said they would vote for the ruling Democratic party of Japan (DPJ), according to a Yomiuri newspaper poll taken on November 16-17.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of parliament on Friday. The election is expected to usher in Japan's seventh prime minister in six years but is unlikely to fix a policy stalemate that has plagued a country struggling to cope with an ageing population, a declining manufacturing sector and the emerging power of China.

The Yomiuri poll also showed that 43 percent of respondents did not support any particular party, suggesting there are still a lot of votes in contention.

In its previous poll, support for the LDP stood at 25 percent, and 10 percent of respondents said they would vote for Noda's Democratic Party.

The DPJ swept to power in 2009, pledging to change how Japan was governed after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by the LDP.

Three years and three prime ministers later, critics say the DPJ has largely failed to deliver on pledges to cut bureaucracy.

(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Paul Tait)

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