Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) gained a election victory in the Sept. 11 general election by capturing 296 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament.

Coupled with the 31 seats gained by LDP’s ruling coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, the country’s governing bloc won a total of 327 seats in the general election, while the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), suffered its first decline since its founding in 1996.

According to Japanese television, the DPJ suffered a rout in the election, obtaining only 113 seats, slumping from the 177 seats it achieved in the last general election in 2003.

The chamber’s 480 seats include nine held by Japanese Communist Party (which saw its number of seats unchanged), seven by the Social Democratic Party, six by three new parties (People’s New Party, New Party Nippon and New Party Daichi) and 18 by independents.

With the LDP being assured of a majority on its own, Koizumi is expected to be quickly re-elected as premier and to resubmit several bills to privatize the Japan postal service, the centerpiece of his policy agenda.

In a statement prior to the election, Shii Kazuo, chair of the Japanese Communist Party, called on other parties to band together to defeat the postal privatization bills in the forthcoming parliamentary session.

During the election campaign, the JCP’s candidates said the real aim of the postal privatization bills was to destroy public postal services and to provide Japanese and U.S. banking interests with new markets to make more profits. Kazuo said the JCP is adamantly opposed to the entire scheme of privatization. It also opposes changes to the constitutional provision that prohibits the deployment of Japanese military forces abroad.

The Japanese Press Service and Xinhua contributed to this story.