Japan's opposition chooses new leader

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yukio Hatoyama

Japan's opposition party, the Democratic Party, on Saturday chose Yukio Hatoyama as its leader for elections later this year.

Hatoyama, the grandson of a former Japanese prime minister, replaced Ichiro Ozawa, who resigned from his post following a scandal over fundraising earlier this month.

Hatoyama and the Democrats have promised to reduce wasteful spending and cut bureaucracy. He has also pledged to increase domestic demand during the ongoing recession, the worst in sixty years.

The general elections are expected to be held in October. According to local opinion polls taken on Saturday, the Democrats may have an edge over Prime Minister Taro Aso's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has remained in power for five decades.

Ozawa, the previous leader of elections, resigned on May 11 after an aide was accused in a fundraising fiasco in March. Prosecutors charged Ozawa had taken illegal donations totaling 21 million yen from the Nishimatsu Construction firm in the years 2003-2007.