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Hatoyama to lead scandal-hit opposition Democratic Party

Yukio Hatoyama (pictured) has been chosen to lead Japan's main opposition Democratic Party in the wake of a scandal over donations. The party is gearing up to challenge Prime Minister Taro Aso in a general election by September.

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AFP - Japan's scandal-shaken main opposition party Saturday chose political blue-blood Yukio Hatoyama as its leader ahead of a key election battle against Prime Minister Taro Aso this year.

Hatoyama beat his main rival Katsuya Okada by 124 votes to 95, to become president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

"I hereby promise to take the lead in achieving a power change," he said  after his election by party lawmakers, vowing to "create a politics in which citizens can take centre stage."

Until now the party's secretary-general, Hatoyama replaces Ichiro Ozawa, who resigned as party chief Monday over a political donations scandal in which one of his top aides has been indicted.

Hatoyama, who was Ozawa's loyal right-hand man for years, has said Ozawa will continue to play a key role in the party, but has denied he will serve as a "puppet" of the political heavyweight.

Despite the donation scandal, the DPJ still enjoys strong support among many voters ahead of a general election, which must be held by September.

In the vote, the DPJ hopes to end more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by Aso's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Hatoyama, 62, is a fourth-generation politician from one of Japan's most influential political dynasties. One of his grandfathers was a prime minister and another founded tyre maker Bridgestone.

Hatoyama has called on his party to revamp Japan's bureaucracy-led politics and to provide better support for people hit hard by the nation's worst recession since World War II.
 

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