Tokyo: Japan`s finance minister emerged on
Thursday as the sole strong candidate for the country`s
leadership after winning support from key cabinet colleagues
tipped as potential rivals.
Naoto Kan, 63, was widely expected to succeed Yukio
Hatoyama on Friday-- first as president of the centre-left
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and then, after a
parliamentary vote, as prime minister of Asia`s biggest
Support has built quickly for Kan, a former grassroots
civic activist who achieved popularity in the mid-1990s when
as health minister he admitted government culpability in a
scandal over HIV-tainted blood products.
Kan took over as finance minister in January and has
since advocated a weak yen and pushed for spending cuts and
tax increases to contain Japan`s ballooning public debt, which
is nearing 200 percent of GDP.
Tokyo stocks rose more than three percent on today,
driven in part by news Kan was likely to take over as premier,
Kan, who also serves as deputy prime minister, met
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, who had been seen as his most
serious potential rival, and afterwards received his public
Okada said he wanted the next premier to tackle the DPJ`s
problems with money politics and exercise strong party
leadership, and added: "Provided these two points are met, I
told him, I support Mr Kan.