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Hashimoto to get successor at end of month

Date Posted: 1998-07-10

Resignation gave a boost to markets, yen. Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto announced his resignation, Monday, after his Liberal Democratic Party's poor showing at the upper house election, Sunday. A new prime minister is expected to be named July 30.

Player on the stock market took Hashimoto's announcement as a good sign, and the Japan's Nikkei index turned upwards for the first time in three days. The value of the Japanese yen also rose.

"I take a total responsibility of the poor showing at the polls," Hashimoto said at a press conference after the results were known. The Liberal Democrats were able to corner only 44 seats of the total of 126. Before the election, Hashimoto had said that he would resign if the LDP didn't win at least 61 seats.

Hashimoto's resignation also lead to the cancellation of his planned trips to France and USA, next week. Hashimoto also resigned his position as the chairman of the LDP. The search for the successor will most likely begin Tuesday, when the LDP is scheduled to vote for a new chairman. The selection of the prime minister probably will not take place before July 30 when the newly elected members of the upper house will be able to take part in the joint session of both chambers.

Most often mentioned names as the successor are Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi, and former Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama, 72. However, both men are considered to be even less independent decision makers than Hashimoto, and are seen as interim caretakers at best and not capable of showing leadership that is needed to lift Japan from its current serious economic slump.

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