Japan's Finance Minister Kan in pole position of succeeding Hatoyama

16:47, June 03, 2010      

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Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan holds a news conference in Tokyo in this April 30, 2010 file photo. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

Naoto Kan, Japan's Finance Minister, moved into pole position in the race to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and claim the top post as Japan's fifth prime minister in four years, as influential cabinet members pledged to support him, ruling party lawmakers said Thursday.

Both Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and transport minister Seiji Maehara said they will back the 63-year old finance minister who said Wednesday he would stand to be the next DPJ leader.

Okada and Maehara were both tipped to be strong contenders with Okada asked for his backing by Kan in talks Thursday morning.

Okada agreed providing Kan, in his new role as DPJ boss, does not run the party from the shadow of backroom dealer Secretary- General Ichiro Ozawa, who will step down with Hatoyama Friday, but is likely to still be able to exert political influence in a new role from behind the scenes.

"A dual power structure is unfavorable for the principle of democracy and on the issue of money and politics, we need to go back to the original DPJ style," Okada told reporters.

"Mr. Kan satisfies these two conditions, so I support him."

Senior Vice Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who leads an intraparty group critical of Ozawa, also told reporters, "Among our colleagues, we have reached an agreement that Mr. Kan is preferable."

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