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The largest doctors’ group in Japan chose Yoshihito Karasawa on Saturday as its new president to replace Haruo Uematsu, who has kept his distance from the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Karasawa, 63, who proposed improving relations with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, won 198 votes in the Japan Medical Association’s election, against Uematsu’s 152. Another candidate, Masahiro Kanamaru, 40, did not win any votes.

In the last general election in September, the JMA’s leadership under Uematsu, 74, supported some independent candidates who opposed Koizumi’s postal privatization policy, rather than clearly backing the LDP.

The new president, Karasawa, graduated from the medical school of Chiba University in 1968 and has led the doctors’ association in Tokyo since 2003.