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Yoshihiko Noda set to become Japanese PM

08-29-2011 19:23 BJT Special Report:Japanese PM Naoto Kan Resigns |

TOKYO, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Finance minister Yoshihiko Noda is almost certain to become Japan's next prime minister after beating economy, trade and industry minister Banri Kaieda in a run-off to win the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) presidential election Monday.

Noda, 54, will become the third prime minister since Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept to power in a historic general election victory two years ago, as well as Japan's sixth premier in just five years, as DPJ controls the more powerful lower house in the Diet.

Noda, a fiscal hawk, garnered 215 ballots out of 392 valid votes, compared with 177 votes for Kaieda, who is backed by DPJ power broker Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the largest intraparty faction.

In his acceptance speech, Noda pledged to DPJ members of both houses his resolve to do his utmost as the DPJ leader, saying he felt a sense of renewed cohesion within the (ruling) party and it was time to overcome intraparty squabbling. He said the DPJ needs to "unify as one, as that is what the public wants."

"Managing a government is like pushing a snowball up a hill in order to make a snowman," Noda said. "We cannot have any more infighting, as this is like the snowball falling back down the hill and just getting heavier."

"We must pull together to push the snowball back up the hill for the sake of the public. Together, with all of you, I will work so that the people of Japan will not regret choosing us as the ruling party of Japan," said Noda.

Kaieda led in the first round of voting. But neither of the two won the majority in the first round of a crowded election, which was also joined by former foreign minister Seiji Maehara, agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Michihiko Kano, and former transport minister Sumio Mabuchi.

The election is boiled down to the fierce competition between supporters and enemies of Ozawa, dubbed as the "Shadow Shogun" who masterminded DPJ's election victory. Ozawa himself was barred from voting as his party membership was suspended following indictment earlier this year over a political fund scandal.

Maehara and Noda's camps joined forces in the second-round as they share similar power base in the party. Both are distant from Ozawa.

Noda, who has vowed to cut public debt through fiscal reform, including a proposed increase in the sales tax, is in favor of the DPJ forming a grand coalition with opposition parties

Noda has said that he supports reducing Japan's reliance on nuclear power but cannot envision a Japan entirely free of nuclear energy.

Noda will have to cope with challenges including reviving a stagnant economy, rebuilding the earthquake and tsunami-devastated areas, ending the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl disaster in Fukushima, arresting a surging yen which threatens export, and seeking cooperation from opposition parties which control the senate.

Outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigned as DPJ chief Friday after seeing the passage in the Diet of two key bills. Kan is expected to step down as prime minister on Tuesday after taking office 14 months ago, the longest-serving premier in five years.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Xinhua

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