Japan’s Ruling Party to Select New Chief

Posted August 28th, 2011 at 8:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Japan's ruling Democratic Party will select a new party president Monday, who is likely to become the nation's next prime minister.

Five candidates vying for the position are former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, former transport minister Sumio Mabuchi, Economy Minister Banri Kaieda, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano.

Prior to the vote Monday, the candidates will address a meeting of Democratic Party lawmakers. Only party members are allowed to vote.

Economy minister Banri Kaieda is the frontrunner, but analysts say no candidate is likely to gain a majority in the first round.

The vote comes after Prime Minister and party chief Naoto Kan officially announced Friday that he would step down. He has been criticized over his handling of Japan's crisis following a massive earthquake and tsunami in March.