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THE WEEK AHEAD

TOKYO : Unusual Debate

June 29, 1993

For only the second time during a Japanese election campaign, leaders of all of Japan's parties will hold a televised policy debate. But unlike the last time, in 1990, it will be a two-part affair--involving leaders of nine political parties, up from five in 1990.

With so many parties, the leaders have been divided into two groups. Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa will join a three-hour debate Friday with the leaders of four established opposition parties but won't participate in a 2 1/2-hour debate Saturday among leaders of four new opposition groups.

At stake in the July 18 election for the lower house of Parliament is the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's 38-year grasp on the reins of power. Defections have reduced its holdings in the lower house, which elects the prime minister, to 227 seats, or 29 shy of a majority.

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