TOKYO (majirox news) — Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Banri Kaieda is poised to join the race to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and is likely to become a favorite to win, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) sources said Aug. 18.
Kaieda is likely to receive the backing of former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa, whose membership of the party is currently suspended, but whose powerful internal faction will come into play when he is reinstated.
Kaieda can also expect support from another Ozawa, former Environment Minister Sakihito, who is set to drop out of the succession struggle and instead back the METI minister.
Meanwhile, former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara is likely to join the race following pressure from within his DPJ faction. Maehara has stated he was not interested in replacing Kan, but is being urged to challenge for the leadership from among DPJ rank-and-file. He said Aug. 18 that he wants to make the final decision by himself, but is expected to face some difficulties after having resigned his Cabinet post in disgrace after accepting illegal donations from a foreigner.
Kan is expected to resign as prime minister and DPJ president within the end of this month. His replacement as DPJ president is also likely to become the new prime minister considering the DPJ’s majority in the House of Representatives