Japan’s main opposition party has elected a new leader following a crushing defeat at the polls. The former cabinet minister may be best known for publicly breaking down in tears following the Fukushima disaster.
Banri Kaieda took 90 of 144 votes cast at a meeting of lawmakers from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in Tokyo on Tuesday, easily beating the only other candidate, Sumio Mabuchi.
"I will do my best to reconstruct the DPJ. Please give me your support," Kaieda said after winning the vote.
Kaieda, 63, was a vocal critic of his predecessor in the post, outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Observers say this was a major factor that helped him win the leadership, as many in the party blamed Noda for the election defeat, which saw the DPJ swept from power earlier this month. Noda took responsibility for the outcome and announced that he would step down as party leader shortly after the results became clear.
The defeat, which saw the DJP lose around three quarters of its seats in parliament, came just three years after it had broken the Liberal Democratic Party's almost unbroken five-decade hold on power.
Kaleida was Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry when Japan was hit by a major earthquake in March of 2011, which led to a tsunami and the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
In a rare public show of emotion for a Japanese poltician, Kaleida broke down in tears in parliament in the wake of the crisis, after being berated by the opposition over his government's nuclear policy.
The new government, to be led by former premier Shinzo Abe, is to be sworn in on Wednesday.
pfd/hc (Reuters, AFP)
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