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Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009
LDP picks stand-in for Diet vote
By MASAMI ITO
Liberal Democratic Party members decided Tuesday they will vote for former farm minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi in the Sept. 16 Diet session to choose the next prime minister.
Wakabayashi, who chairs the Joint Plenary Meeting of Party Members of Both Houses of the Diet but has little influence over other party members, was chosen during a meeting of LDP members from both Diet chambers in an apparent attempt to avoid — at least for now — infighting over who should be the next LDP president.
Many members are refusing to vote for outgoing Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is also the LDP president, because of the party's drubbing in the Aug. 30 election under his leadership.
It is extremely rare for LDP lawmakers not to side with their president in a vote for prime minister, underscoring the party's lack of younger politicians who can take the helm.
Yukio Hatoyama, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, is expected to be chosen as prime minister during the Sept. 16 Diet session.
Aso apologized to his colleagues and supporters during the LDP meeting and expressed his intention to step down as party president on the morning of Sept. 16.
"Unfortunately, the LDP and New Komeito together could not (retain their) majority," Aso said. "As a result, we lost many talented members and I am truly disappointed and apologize for the outcome. All of the responsibility lies with me."
The LDP will hold a presidential election Sept. 28 to choose a new president.
"The party must unite immediately and . . . we must move on to create a system so we can make a new start," Wakabayashi said during the joint meeting, accepting the party members' decision to vote for him as prime minister.
LDP lawmakers stressed the importance of reinventing the party and eradicating the "old" LDP image.
"Nobody wants the old LDP to come back," Upper House lawmaker Kazuya Maruyama said angrily during the meeting.
"The people are saying they would like to support a reborn LDP."