Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Friday easily won a leadership vote of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) with a large majority over three challengers, all former Ministers, more than a year after assuming office.
The re-election as DPJ chief with a landslide victory means that he will retain his grip on power temporarily, while the threat that a longer political future is far from bright or certain remains, reports say.
An easy win was expected for the 55-year-old leader, who was assured backing by key figures such as former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and policy chief Seiji Maehara. He also took advantage of the failure of the critics of his policy to field a common strong rival candidate.
Noda garnered 818 out of 1,231 points in the election, while his rivals - former Agriculture Ministers Michihiko Kano and Hirotaka Akamatsu, and former Internal Affairs Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi had to share only the rest of the votes.
After winning the election, Noda indicated a reshuffle, possibly by next week, of the Cabinet and top DPJ executives to prepare the party for a looming general election.
On return from the United States after attending the U.N. General Assembly meeting, Noda is set to discuss with Opposition LDP and its ally the New Komeito party the handling of important legislation, including the issuance of central government bonds and the bill to reform the Lower House electoral system.
The two parties had cooperated with Noda last month to pass the social security and tax reform bills in return for Noda's pledge to dissolve the House of Representatives and call general elections soon.
Noda is under pressure over a new nuclear energy policy, the dwindling majority in Parliament, and Japan's worsening relations with China over the Senkaku islands.
by RTT Staff Writer
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