Japan's Finance Minister Kan in pole position of succeeding Hatoyama (2)

16:47, June 03, 2010      

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With Okada and Maehara backing the favorite candidate, that leaves just one opponent for Kan in the race for the DPJ leadership and prime minister's post, following Friday's election.

DPJ lower house member Shinji Tarutoko expressed his willingness to challenge Kan 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 although has close ties with pro-Ozawa lawmakers in the DPJ.

Once the new leader is elected on Friday they will become prime minister and form their cabinet. The new premier will govern until the end of September.

Should Kan win it would make him the second leader since the DPJ swept to power in historic elections last August and Japan's fifth prime minister in less than four years.

Kan's seniority in the party and more than three decades in parliament, will stand him in good stead on Friday and he is widely regarded as the safest bet to lead the party through its current times of turbulence.

As finance minister, Kan has publicly favored a weaker yen and leant on Japan's central bank to do more to fight deflation and stimulate the economy.

Source: Xinhua

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