Japan’s Ex-PM to Run for Ruling Party Leadership

Posted August 22nd, 2011 at 11:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara has decided to run in an upcoming election to determine a new leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan – and therefore, the country's prime minister.

Japanese news media report that Maehara is expected to make a formal announcement late Tuesday.

The Democratic Party has set August 29 to hold elections for a new party chief to replace Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who is expected to resign.

Mr. Kan has said he would step down if parliament passes two key bills – one on the release of new bonds and another to promote renewable energy. Both bills are expected to pass by the end of this week following a deal between ruling party lawmakers and the opposition.

So far, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda has been considered the front-runner to become Japan's sixth prime minister since 2006.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano and Minister of Economy and Trade Banri Kaieda also are reported to be running in the election.

Mr. Kan has been under pressure to resign because of widespread dissatisfaction with his government's handling of the response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.