Uphill battle for Japan's new leader to put Hatoyama's wrongs to right

15:39, June 04, 2010      

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Naoto Kan, Japan's Finance Minister addresses a press conference in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on June 3, 2010. Japan's DPJ chooses Naoto Kan as new Party President on June 4. (Xinhua Photo) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) legislators on Friday decided they wanted finance minister Naoto Kan to step into the shoes of outgoing chief Yukio Hatoyama and rule the DPJ and, indeed, the country.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and his entire Cabinet stepped down collectively on Friday morning, prior to the Diet's vote that propelled Kan into his new post as DPJ chief having convinced the majority of both houses of parliament he was the better man for the job, not overly difficult being that his only opponent was Shinji Tarutoko, a relatively unknown lawmaker from Japan's ruling DPJ, known for his pro-Ichiro Ozawa affiliations which may have been to his detriment.

Having won the support of the Diet to become the DPJ's new leader, Kan was assured the role of prime minister because the DPJ holds a comfortable majority in the more powerful House of Representatives.

Kan, Japan's 94th prime minister and fifth since 2006, now has less than a month to get his party and his Cabinet battle-ready as upper house elections loom.

Unlike the outgoing prime minister, who has been rightly chastised for his political blunders including his involvement in political funds scandals and the debacle over the relocating of the Futenma base in Okinawa -- which eventually led to the division of the ruling coalition as the Social Democratic Party opted to jump ship -- political pundits believe that whilst Kan's record is not squeaky clean, he has the experience and desire to get Japan back on track.

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