Japan ruling party readies leadership vote
TOKYO (AFP) - Three men will challenge Yoshihiko Noda for leadership of the governing Democratic Party of Japan, it was announced on Monday, with the Prime Minister widely expected to survive the vote.
Under party rules, there must be an election every two years for the job, which currently comes with the post of premier, but after his only serious rival ruled himself out, Mr Noda's grip looks secure.
As prime minister and leader of the DPJ - presently the biggest party in parliament - Mr Noda has pushed through unpopular legislation on doubling sales tax. This, alongside general disenchantment with his once-popular party, has left many lawmakers fearing for their jobs in the general election expected this autumn.
"I decided to run for the party presidential election as I can't abandon the task of rebuilding the party and revitalising Japan," Mr Noda told reporters as all four candidates gathered in Tokyo.