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Asia

Japan's new PM Kan selects new party leaders

Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan has pledged a fresh start on the eve of the formal inauguration of his new cabinet.

Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Public support for the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has increased considerably ever since Naoto Kan was elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote on Friday. One of the opinion polls suggests that over 66 percent people support Kan compared with some 20 percent for the outgoing Hatoyama cabinet. Yukio Hatoyama quit last week following a steep decline in his approval ratings over political funding scandals and a dispute about a US airbase.

The party's secretary-general Ichiro Ozawa, who had also been embroiled in political funding scandals, stepped down too.

Yukio Edano speaks after being named as the new secretary general of the DPJ

Yukio Edano speaks after being named as the new secretary general of the DPJ

New line-up

In a bid to give a fresh boost to the party, Kan has introduced a new party line-up. He has chosen Yukio Edano, who served as reform minister to replace Ozawa as secretary-general. 46-year-old Edano is a critic of Ozawa.

Shinji Tarutoko, who challenged Kan for the top post, becomes the DPJ's parliamentary affairs chief while Yoshito Sengoku has become the new chief cabinet secretary.

Kan will be sworn in by Emperor Akihito on Tuesday. He is then expected to formally present his cabinet.

Pressure is high on the Democrats to boost the economy

Pressure is high on the Democrats to boost the economy

New finance minister

It is widely expected that Kan will retain most of the members of the outgoing Hatoyama cabinet. This includes Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and Transport Minister Seiji Maehara. However he is likely to name his former deputy, Yoshihiko Noda, as the new finance minister as pressure mounts on him to revive the economy and cut mounting public debt.

The DPJ's reshuffle is aimed at regaining the trust of the public, which elected the party by a landslide in elections last August. It also comes at a time when the party prepares for an upper house election due in July. These elections are very important for the Democrats if they want their reforms and policies to have a smooth passage through parliament.

du/Reuters/dpa/AFP/AP
Editor: Grahame Lucas

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