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Hatoyama, Okada flex muscles ahead of DPJ presidential election
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20:31, May 14, 2009

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Japan's opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and Vice President Katsuya Okada on Thursday officially announced their candidacies for the DPJ presidential election scheduled for Saturday.

Both politicians voiced their intentions Wednesday to run in Saturday's election for DPJ's top post following scandal-hit Ichiro Ozawa resigned as DPJ president Monday.

A close ally of Ozawa, 62-year-old Hatoyama, who is likely to continue to pursue Ozawa's policies, said in a press conference that if he wins the race, he would like Ozawa to play a major role.

He added that he is willing to assign his 55-year-old rival Okada to an important position as he enjoys wide support among the public.

"I would like him (Ozawa) to join the new leadership," he said.

With regard to his policies, Hatoyama said that he is opposed to raising the consumption tax rate but in support of banning political donations from companies and groups, placing restrictions on candidates "inheriting" their constituencies from relatives.

A combination photo shows Japan's main opposition Democratic party secretary general Yukio Hatoyama (L) and vice president Katsuya Okada speaking during a news conference at the party headquarters in Tokyo May 14, 2009. Democratic Party lawmakers will choose a party leader on Saturday after scandal-hit Ichiro Ozawa quit to revive the group's chances of ending more than a half-century of almost unbroken rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

In a separate press conference, Okada also expressed his willingness to appoint the outgoing Ozawa to a party executive post if he is elected DPJ chief.

"We can't achieve a regime change unless we utilize all our human resources," he said.

Public opinion polls show that the DPJ is still in the lead among voters before the general election, which is to occur no later than September.

A survey conducted by the Nikkei business daily among lawmakers showed that Hatoyama takes the lead for the top DPJ post despite more support for Okada from voters.

According to the survey, which covered four-fifths of DPJ lawmakers, nearly half said they would back Hatoyama, compared with 30 percent who intend to vote for Okada.

Public opinion polls, on the other hand, show the younger Okadais more popular among voters.

According to a Mainichi newspaper poll, a quarter of respondents would like Okada to lead the party while 13 percent want Hatoyama.

Analysts say that the DPJ lawmakers need to consider it in their calculations whether they should choose Hatoyama to their liking or pick Okada in preparation for the bitter battles with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the general election.

Source: Xinhua

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