Naoto Kan Becomes DPJ Chief
    2010-06-04 11:00:57     Xinhua      Web Editor: Liu Donghui

Naoto Kan, Japan's finance and deputy prime minister, right, raises his arm with Shinji Tarutoko, a candidate, as he is congratulated by members of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) after being elected party president, at the DPJ meeting in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, June 4, 2010. Kan was elected head of Japan's ruling party, paving the way for the 63-year-old finance minister to become the fifth premier in less than four years. [Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images/CFP]

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) legislators Friday voted for finance minister Naoto Kan, to succeed the outgoing Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama as the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader.

Kan, a front-runner for the position following Hatoyama's hasty resignation on Wednesday, beat rival Shinji Tarutoko, a relatively unknown lawmaker from the DPJ, by 291 votes to 129, from the 420 valid votes of 423 DPJ lawmakers in both houses of the Diet.

In line with the DPJ's majority strength in Parliament Kan will almost certainly serve as the nation's prime minister until the end of September when Hatoyama's term was scheduled to end.

The imminent task for Kan will be to secure a majority in the upcoming upper house election, which is expectedly to be held in July.

"I will fulfill Hatoyama's wishes to lead the party to win the upper house election," Kan said after he was confirmed a victory, adding the DPJ should "make solid economic and fiscal policies to rebuild the Japanese economy."

Kan is set to become the prime minister in the afternoon, after being approved by the Diet.

But the newly-elected DPJ chief said his cabinet is likely to be launched on Tuesday.

Kan, a 63-year-old veteran lawmaker, founded the Democratic Party with Hatoyama more than a decade ago and shot to fame as health minister in the 1990s, when he spearheaded a campaign to unveil health ministry's scandal over HIV-tainted blood products.

The new DPJ chief, who served dual roles of deputy prime minister and finance minister, is widely regarded by his peers as a no-nonsense politician.

Kan has said that his "ordinary" background as opposed to a number of his predecessors' privileged upbringings and connections that catapulted them into positions of political power, will serve him well as he tries to convince the public that the cabinet he forms will be the one "they hope for."

"I will make the Democratic Party a clean party that can be trusted by the Japanese people," Kan said at a recent news conference alluding to Hatoyama and ruling party heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa both resigning partly due to funding scandals.

"This has caused mistrust among the public. Ozawa should be quiet for a while. That would be good for him, for the Democratic Party and for Japanese politics."

"I will make the Democratic Party a clean party that can be trusted by the Japanese people," said the new DPJ chief.

Kan believes the outgoing administration erred on economic and fiscal policies and he will, as prime minister, quickly go about compiling new growth strategies and fiscal reform plans.

"I plan to achieve a strong economy, public finances and social welfare system in a unified manner."

"For the past 20 years, Japan's economic policies were wrong. I want to seek to boost growth by creating jobs," Kan said.

He began his political career as a civic activist in the 1970s and ran for office three times before winning a lower house seat in 1980 for the now-defunct Socialist Democratic Federation.

With his ordinary upbringing, Kan would represent a break with the past several prime ministers, including Hatoyama, whose fathers or grandfathers were also prime ministers.

The son of a businessman, Kan was born in Yamaguchi prefecture in southwest Japan and graduated from the Tokyo Institute of Technology's science department.

Once he selects his new cabinet to represent the party he will likely attend an attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace, at which Emperor Akihito will inaugurate him as Japan's 61st prime minister.

Hatoyama and his entire Cabinet stepped down together in the morning, prior to the Diet's vote on the country's new leader in the afternoon.

Hatoyama stepped down abruptly Wednesday due to mishandling of the Futenma U.S. base relocation and fund issues. He was the fourth prime minister to resign in four years, only eight months after he swept into power in a historic general election last September.


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