Japan’s Finance Minister Naoto Kan was set to become prime minister of the world’s second-largest economy on Friday, after his predecessor bowed out over the bungled handling of a US base dispute.
Kan won the support of 291 lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in an election for party leader, against 129 for the only other candidate, little-known legislator Shinji Tarutoko.
Parliament was expected to confirm Kan after 0500 GMT as the successor to Yukio Hatoyama, who tearfully resigned as prime minister this week over the Okinawa base row and a political funding scandal.
Kan, a 63-year-old former civic activist, was also deputy prime minister in the centre-left government that came to power last year in a landslide election that ended half a century of almost non-stop conservative rule.
“My first job is to rebuild the country, and to create a party in which all members can stand up together and say with confidence, ‘We can do it!'” a smiling Kan said in brief comments immediately after the party vote.
“Many people entrusted the DPJ with a torch, to rebuild Japan,” Kan said on Thursday when he confirmed his candidacy. “I want to carry on the torch from Prime Minister Hatoyama and realise that goal.”
He said his priorities would be to revive the lacklustre economy, restore confidence in his party and root out money politics after the scandals that hit Hatoyama, who received undeclared funds from his millionaire mother.