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Former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa is likely to accept a request from Keizo Obuchi, newly elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, to run the Finance Ministry, party sources said Tuesday.

Obuchi is expected to be named prime minister Thursday and to name his new Cabinet immediately afterward.

Obuchi told reporters Tuesday afternoon he wants Miyazawa to take the crucial post being made even more demanding by the nation’s serious economic problems. “I think the post is of the greatest importance,” Obuchi said. “I would like to meet with Mr. Miyazawa (today) to directly make the request.”

He made his remarks after a long meeting with the LDP’s new executives — including Secretary General Yoshiro Mori and policy chief Yukihiko Ikeda — and with Hiromu Nonaka, the designated chief Cabinet secretary of the next administration.

Obuchi, who is currently the foreign minister, also said his meeting with Miyazawa will follow one between Miyazawa and former Secretary General Koichi Kato, who is also expected to request Miyazawa’s help. Kato is a member of a Miyazawa-led LDP faction and has close ties with the former prime minister.

Obuchi’s remarks are believed to reflect his confidence that Miyazawa will accept the request. Miyazawa is expected to return to Tokyo this afternoon from Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.

Miyazawa has been a bureaucrat and the head of the Finance Ministry. He is one of major architects of the government’s financial system.

Since last fall, Miyazawa has played a key role behind the scenes in the party’s effort to compile its 30 trillion yen scheme for dealing with the nation’s lingering financial uncertainty, as well as the “bridge bank” for disposing the bad loans accumulating at the nation’s ailing financial institutions.

However, noting his age, Miyazawa, 78, has refused to become finance minister, saying his appointment would turn the nation’s political clock backward, LDP sources said.

Earlier in the day, Obuchi asked Nonaka to become the top government spokesman, one of the most important posts in the prospective Cabinet because of its close access to the prime minister, as well as to vital information. “I listened,” Nonaka, 72, told reporters.

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