Japan's opposition picks ex-trade minister as new leader

TOKYO Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:44pm IST

Related Topics

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese opposition party the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) chose former Economics Minister Banri Kaieda to replace the outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda as its new leader on Tuesday, after a crushing lower house defeat earlier this month.

Kaieda, a vocal critic of the outgoing leadership, won because party members blamed Noda for his handling of snap elections, and for losing public support after unpopular decisions to raise the sales tax and restart some nuclear reactors despite the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

In a short campaign neither Kaieda nor his rival, former transport minister Sumio Mabuchi, presented a detailed vision of how they wanted to position the DPJ in relation to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-led coalition.

Kaieda, 63, is best known in Japan for crying in public after being berated over the then-government's energy policy in the wake of the Fukushima crisis last year, and asked to resign as a minister.

The LDP's conservative leader Shinzo Abe, who formally takes office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday, has threatened to revise a law guaranteeing the BOJ's independence unless the central bank sets an inflation target of 2 percent and embarks on bold monetary easing steps to beat deflation.

Abe has also called for more public works to help revive the stagnant economy.

In his comments to reporters after the DPJ leadership race, Kaieda criticised the idea of reviving the economy through public works as an "old way of thinking" and stressed the need to protect the independence of the Bank of Japan.

Kaieda, who was running the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry when the Fukushima disaster struck, also signalled he would cooperate with the LDP on the sales tax hike and social welfare reform deal struck in the previous parliament.

The LDP and its smaller coalition partner New Komeito secured more than two-thirds in the parliament's lower chamber, allowing it to override the upper house where the DPJ remains the largest force.

Still, the LDP may seek compromise on some issues as overruling the upper chamber in Japan is time-consuming, cumbersome and seen by many voters as high-handed.

Kaieda also said he will reach out to other opposition parties ahead of the upper house race next summer. He is close to a former DPJ powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa, a 70-year-old political mastermind who left the party earlier this year and was re-elected as a member of the Tomorrow Party of Japan. (Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

FILED UNDER:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Putin Critic Killed

Putin Critic Killed

Russians march in memory of murdered Putin critic.  Full Article 

Pakistan's First Win

Pakistan's First Win

Irfan bounces Zimbabwe out as Pakistan claim first win.  Full Article 

Budget 2015

Budget 2015

Full coverage of 2015/16 budget.  Full Coverage 

Hacked to Death

Hacked to Death

Bangladesh pays tribute to U.S. blogger killed in machete attack.  Full Article 

The Apple Car

The Apple Car

Apple car rumours fuel Geneva debate about car of future.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Dum Laga Ke Haisha" is rooted in reality, writes Shilpa Jamkhandikar.  Full Article | Related Story 

Crowded Market

Crowded Market

China's Huawei enters smartwatch frenzy with round-face models.  Full Article 

Lathmar Holi

In Pics: Lathmar Holi

Images of "Lathmar Holi" at Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh.  Full Coverage 

World Cup 2015

World Cup 2015

Full coverage of cricket world cup in Australia and New Zealand.  Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage