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Japan ruling party elects Noda as next leader

(People's Daily Online)

08:26, August 30, 2011

Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda gives a speech after winning Japan's ruling party presidential election in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

Japanese governing party elected finance minister Yoshihiko Noda Monday to become the next prime minister, who will face daunting challenges including tsunami recovery and finding any useful measures to revive Japan's moribund economy.

It was a surprise triumph for Noda. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)'s choice of Noda, who has no large power base within the party and is not one of the Democrats' founding members, appeared to signal an effort to move beyond deep divisions within the Party.

As finance minister, Yoshihiko Noda has already been battling economic malaise and the yen's record surge against the U.S. dollar, which hurts Japan's exporters. During the campaign, Noda presented himself as a pro-business fiscal conservative who could rein in Japan's ballooning government debt while battling a chronic deflation.

But when Noda takes over from Naoto Kan, the new prime minister is to take on an even more unenviable role with a much broader set of knotty problems, including a aging population, public dismay with government and the efforts to rebuild from the worst natural disaster to hit Japan since World War II.

Nearly six months after the quake-spawned tsunami devastated Japan's northeastern coast, dozens of towns are still cleaning up and remain struggling to find a life. The tsunami-damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has displaced about 100,000 people who live in temporary housing or with relatives, unsure of when they will return.

Naoto Kan is said to have failed to galvanize Japan after the tsunami in March and point a new direction for Japan. It remained unclear whether the relatively inexperienced Noda will fare any better in ending Japan's drift.

One of his biggest challenged will be a divided Parliament, where opposition parties like the Liberal Democrats have used control of the upper house to block the Democrats, in hopes of forcing an early general election. During the campaign, Noda signaled a greater willingness to compromise with opposition than did the other candidates.

A fiscal conservative, Noda is well-liked by some in the business community, but he's also viewed as lacking charisma. A profile in the mass circulation Asahi newspaper earlier described him as "a deep thinker, but also bland, inoffensive and non-confrontational."

Noda defeated Trade Minister Banri Kaieda 215-177 in a run-off ballot among ruling party members of parliament after none of the initial five candidates won a majority in the first round.

As party chief, Noda will become prime minister because the Democrats control the more powerful lower house. Parliament is expected to approve Noda today.

He faces an immediate challenge in restoring public confidence shattered by political infighting in the wake of the disasters - sentiment that sent Kan's approval ratings plunging below 20 percent. "Let us sweat together for the sake of the people," Noda told fellow party members after the vote. "This is my heartfelt wish."

Noda will become Japan's sixth prime minister in five years, a turnover that has done little to help the country tackle its problems and recover some of the confidence it has lost since the booming 1980s.


Leave your comment4 comments

  1. Name

PD User at 2011-08-30199.71.174.*
Japan will never produce any world leaders as long as they continue to bury their heads in the sand: denying the truth of Japan's war crimes and having their own version of white-washed history that is completely contrary to the world history by all other nations in the world, including all Asian countries, the USA, EU, Canada, Australia, and the rest.
PD User at 2011-08-30175.142.27.*
rightways at 2011-08-30175.144.42.*
Noda is Japanese sixth PM in five years! Among his recent comments were: No Class-A War Criminals, no Nanjing Massacres committed by Japan during the Second World War, and during Japan's military occupation of China before World War.
Dave Dillinger II at 2011-08-30124.210.129.*
Japanese should be proud of their human resources affluent enough to produce prime ministers one after another in surprisingly short terms.

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