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Keizo Obuchi, new president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, pledged Friday to make every effort to revive the economy and regain the public’s trust in politics.

Speaking at his first news conference as LDP chief, Obuchi said he feels a heavy responsibility for the daunting challenges confronting Japan and his party.

“The biggest challenge for us is to revive our economy. I recognize that Japan plays an important role in the international community, and that Japan’s stagnant economy is affecting that of Asia and the rest of the world,” Obuchi said. “I will make the utmost effort to bring Japan’s economy back on a recovery path.”

Asked about his new Cabinet lineup, Obuchi said he will put “the right person in the right place” in order to exercise the full power of his administration.

He declined to comment on whether he would tap his rivals in the LDP race — former Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama and Health and Welfare Minister Junichiro Koizumi — to join his Cabinet or to be the party’s top executives.

Obuchi only said he hopes and believes that both Kajiyama and Koizumi will help him in whatever position they serve. He also said he does not think the election created a rift in the party.

“The three candidates had a good fight. We have explained our policy agendas to the public through our appearances in TV programs and coverage by newspapers,” he said. “This is a new type of party presidential election, and I don’t think any residue of bitter feeling between us is left.”

While the LDP holds a comfortable majority in the powerful Lower House, it needs to seek the cooperation of the opposition camp in the Upper House to push key legislation through the Diet.

Obuchi said he hopes to obtain the opposition camp’s support so key bills can clear the Diet, but he did not name any particular party he may approach to form an alliance or pursue cooperative ties.

Obuchi said he wants to submit to the upcoming extraordinary Diet session bills to stabilize the nation’s financial system and have them passed as soon as possible.

He indicated he is not fazed by his low ratings in popularity surveys, noting that this stems from his lack of public exposure. Obuchi added that he is confident the public will get to know and understand him better.

“I am sure the people will understand me more and see my good points if they know me better,” he said, adding that he hopes to meet with people throughout the nation to this end.

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