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Ichiro Ozawa, former vice president of the Democratic Party of Japan, says he is eager to run in the party’s presidential election this Friday.

In an interview taped last week and broadcast Sunday, he said, “I will do my best, regardless of whether I am” running at the front or the back of the pack.

The Fuji TV interview was recorded Friday, shortly after DPJ chief Seiji Maehara and other top party executives announced they were resigning over the fake e-mail that suggested a son of Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe received money illicitly from Takafumi Horie, the founder of Internet firm Livedoor Co. who is now under arrest.

Ozawa said that although the main opposition party is still “an incomplete political party,” there is “much significance in a regime change.”

A Kyodo News survey showed Sunday that Ozawa and former DPJ President Naoto Kan have almost equal public support as party head.

Kyodo conducted the nationwide telephone survey over the weekend to seek public opinion about who should assume the DPJ presidency after the mass resignation.

The results showed Ozawa with support from 22.1 percent of the 1,025 respondents, and Kan with 21.1 percent.

DPJ elder Kozo Watanabe, who is favored by some party members for the top post, told reporters separately Sunday that he has no intention of running in the race.

Watanabe, chairman of the party’s Diet Affairs Committee, also said during a TV Asahi program that the DPJ president should never be chosen through behind-the-scenes talks. He expressed strong opposition to the party choosing its next leader through what he described as “bid-rigging.”

The DPJ leadership resigned en masse after the party’s credibility was damaged by attacking Takebe with the e-mail, which it later admitted was not authentic, and mishandling the blunder.

The new leader will complete Maehara’s remaining term through September, when the party’s regular presidential election will be held.

Nearly 59 percent of those who responded to the Kyodo poll said it was natural for the party leadership to step down. As for the timing of the resignation, 75.8 percent said it came too late, compared to 16.8 percent who felt the timing was appropriate.

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