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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

DPJ approves new leadership as Ozawa vows to unseat LDP


Staff writer

The new executives of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan under President Ichiro Ozawa were formally approved Tuesday by member lawmakers.

"I will make utmost efforts to take power (from the Liberal Democratic Party) with you," Ozawa told DPJ lawmakers at a meeting in Tokyo.

Naoto Kan, 59, twice president of the party, was appointed deputy president.

Ozawa reappointed the other executives from under the former regime of Seiji Maehara, including Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama, Diet Affairs chief Kozo Watanabe and Policy Research chief Takeaki Matsumoto.

Former Deputy Secretary General Koichiro Gemba refused reappointment.

Gemba acted as the leader of the party's internal investigation team over the fiasco stemming from using a fake e-mail to suggest shady financial links between a son of Liberal Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe and Livedoor Co. founder Takafumi Horie.

The scandal left Maehara no choice but to step down as president.

He announced his intention to resign March 31 along with the resignation of the other executive members.

Ozawa, who is serving out the remainder of Maehara's term through September, defeated Kan in the party's presidential election last Friday.

Despite concern over his reputation for backroom dealing and dictatorial leadership, Ozawa received 119 votes in the presidential election, while Kan garnered 72.

Information from Kyodo added

Campaign kicks off

CHIBA (Kyodo) The campaign for a House of Representatives by-election in Chiba Prefecture officially got under way Tuesday with five candidates running for the seat.

The contest will serve as a gauge of voter sentiment regarding Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's administration and whether the Democratic Party of Japan can win back trust under its new leader, Ichiro Ozawa.

The DPJ is reeling over a scandal in which it used a fake e-mail massage to accuse Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe of improper ties with former Livedoor Inc. President Takafumi Horie.

The LDP's Takebe, DPJ Deputy President Naoto Kan, and JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii hit the campaign trail on the first day of the campaign, throwing their weight behind their candidates.

The DPJ fielded Kazumi Ota, 26, a former member of the Chiba Prefectural Assembly. Ken Saito, 53, is running on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket with the support of New Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner. Saito is a former deputy governor of Saitama Prefecture.

Kiyoko Tokumasu, 53, a committee member of the Communist Party of Japan's prefectural office, and independent Sutoku Kobayashi, 63, an administrative notary, and Shinichiro Miyaoka, a former high school teacher, are also running.

The by-election in the Chiba No. 7 district, which will take place April 23, is being held to fill the seat left vacant after the LDP's Kazumi Matsumoto resigned in January over accusations of election fraud.

Saito, who is backed by the LDP, emphasized his experience as a former official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. He said he wants to create a community where children can go to school safely.

Ota, supported by the DPJ, stressed putting a policy in place that leaves no one behind.

"This by-election is the result of LDP's money-driven politics," Tokumasu from the JCP said. "I will change the LDP-led politics, which causes people to suffer."



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The Japan Times

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