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Ozawa to press Kan to lead DPJ

Date Posted: 2010-09-02

Ichiro Ozawa says he’ll challenge Prime Minister Naoto Kan for leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan, a move that could alter the balance of power in Japan once more.

Traditionally, the head of the party in power—in this case the Democratic Party of Japan—becomes the country’s Prime Minister at the same time he takes the reins as party president. The DPJ leadership election is set for September 14th, and Kan had hoped that Ozawa, a former party leader, would bow out and not challenge him. Ozawa and Kan met face-to-face Tuesday, their first confrontation since the DPJ’s drubbing in the House of Councilors election July 11th.

Ozawa has become increasingly critical of the Prime Minister’s leadership and economic policies, and began considering the run for the presidency after gaining support from the former Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama. Hatoyama and Ozawa had both stepped down from their national and party leadership positions, and are now challenging Kan’s decisions and calling for realignments in government and party leadership. Ozawa specifically wants to see Kan change the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshito Sengoku, and DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano.

Kan and Ozawa have made public promises that regardless of who wins the leadership election, the other will support him. Many lawmakers in Ozawa’s camp are praising his decision to get back into the top party operations.

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