Japan premier wins vote to stay in power

Japan premier wins vote to stay in power

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has survived a challenge to his leadership after being re-elected as president of the ruling Democratic Party.

Mr Kan defeated challenger Ichiro Ozawa, a veteran powerbroker with a 40-year political career.

Mr Kan’s victory means Japan will be spared another change in leadership, as the country confronts a surging yen and spat with China over a collision near disputed islands.

Mr Kan, in office for just three months, defeated Mr Ozawa by an unexpectedly wide margin, 721-491.

Parliamentary party members accounted for two-thirds of the votes, while rank-and-file members around the country made up the remaining third.

A party heavyweight, Mr Ozawa quit as the party’s number two in June, amid a political funding scandal.

The leadership tussle has distracted Japan at a time when it desperately needs to confront a host of problems, from a sluggish economy and a surging yen - which hit a new 15-year high against the dollar today – to an escalating spat with China over a ship collision near disputed islands.

Had Mr Ozawa won, he would have been Japan’s third prime minister in a year.

A fiscal disciplinarian who has urgently called for Japan to create more jobs to revive the economy, Mr Kan is far more popular among the general public than Mr Ozawa, who is widely viewed as a backroom kingmaker with a scandal-tainted image. Mr Ozawa could be indicted as early as next month over allegations of political finance irregularities.

Famous for standing up to Japan’s bureaucrats when he exposed a government cover-up of HIV-tainted blood in the mid-1990s, Mr Kan has pledged to make politics more transparent and accountable. Surveys show that voters prefer him by a margin of four to one.

Mr Ozawa, a fixture in Japanese politics for 40 years, mounted a strong challenge, tapping into his deep support base within the party. A master strategist, he is widely credited with engineering the Democrats’ landslide victory a year ago, unseating the conservative Liberal Democratic Party which ruled Japan for most of the post-Second World War era.

While Mr Ozawa said he would back Mr Kan if he lost, some analysts have speculated that he may try to break away from the Democrats to form his own party or even join with the LDP.

More in this Section

More protesters exit Hong Kong campus as voters urged to ‘kick out black force’More protesters exit Hong Kong campus as voters urged to ‘kick out black force’

Four killed as protesters clash with security forces in BaghdadFour killed as protesters clash with security forces in Baghdad

Five killed in blast at Sicily fireworks factoryFive killed in blast at Sicily fireworks factory

Prince Andrew seen for first time after stepping down from royal dutiesPrince Andrew seen for first time after stepping down from royal duties


Lifestyle

Low blood pressure, or hypotension, can occur for a few reasons.Natural health: I'm seven months pregnant and have low blood pressure; I have psorasis due to work pressure

Almost every year, at about this time, loaves of beautifully packaged Panettone start appearing in delicatessen shops.Michelle Darmody: It's the time of the year for Panettone

It can be difficult to diagnose early.World Pancreatic Cancer Day: The signs to look out for

With flights resuming to the world famous Egyptian resort, now is the time to go, says Sarah Marshall.This is why you should be diving in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2020

More From The Irish Examiner