Japan's race for new PM heats up, new PM to inaugurate cabinet Friday

12:23, June 03, 2010      

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Profile: Leadership hopefuls of Japan's ruling Democratic Party

Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announces his resignation, with tears in his eyes, during a general meeting of DPJ lawmakers at the parliament building in Tokyo June 2, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Following the announcement of outgoing Prime Minster Yukio Hatoyama's resignation on Wednesday, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is planning to ask parliament to name a new prime minister Friday, meaning Hatoyama's successor can name his cabinet on the same day, DPJ lawmakers said Thursday.

The DPJ decided after Hatoyama's resignation to begin the process of accepting candidacies for the party leadership election from 9 a.m. Friday, and hold a general meeting of DPJ Diet members from 11 a.m. to choose a new leader, who will succeed Hatoyama as prime minister.

Naoto Kan, Japan's Finance Minister who also doubles up as deputy prime minister was the first candidate to state he would be standing on Friday and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara said late Wednesday he is as yet undecided whether or not to run in Friday's election saying he will seek counsel from his colleagues.

DPJ lower house member Shinji Tarutoko expressed his willingness to challenge Kan, who many pundits believe is the frontrunner in the election race, in a surprise response to reporters Thursday confirming his intention to stand.

Tarutoko, 50, a DPJ lawmaker, heads the lower house environment committee and is known as one of seven members of a group led by party elder Kozo Watanabe that has distanced itself from party heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa.

However, Tarutoko is reportedly close to pro-Ozawa lawmakers.

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