Naoto Kan becomes DPJ chief, prime minister post certain

12:19, June 04, 2010      

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Naoto Kan, Japan's Finance Minister who also doubles up as deputy prime minister, addresses the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)'s presidential election in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on June 4, 2010. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan started presidential election Friday morning, with Finance Minister Naoto Kan leading the race. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

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 frontrunner 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.

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 newsconference, 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.

Source: Xinhua


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