Banri Kaieda, 62, the economy, trade and industry minister, on Friday announced his intention to run in the DPJ presidential election to replace Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
Kaeda told a news conference that he will do his best to get the backing of 20 party lawmakers, the minimum number necessary for a candidate to take part in the election. He said he is running because he wants to unify the party.
After the news conference, he met with former DPJ chief Ichiro Ozawa and former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to ask for their support.
Ozawa, who leads the party's largest faction with 140 members, is expected to play a key role, even though he is under indictment over a political funds scandal and has no voting privilege. Ozawa said on Wednesday that the next prime minister must be experienced and be willing to give up everything to lead Japan out of its current crisis.
Kaieda came under fire earlier this month after he was seen crying in the Diet when he apologized for lax supervision of his ministry's nuclear safety agency and the scandal in which power utilities admitted trying to fake public support at symposiums.
The actual date of the election, which will be announced next week by DPJ Secretary-General Katsuya Okada, is expected to be Aug 28 or Aug 29.
The crowded field also includes Finance Minister Yoshiko Noda, 54, Agriculture Minister Michiko Kano, 69, former Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa, 57, former Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi, 51, and Shinji Tarutoko, 52, the DPJ’s chief of parliamentary affairs. Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, 49, says he still hasn't made up his mind.© Japan Today