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Ichiro Ozawa, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, will probably be reinstalled in September without a challenger to merit an election, sources at the largest opposition party said Wednesday.

Ozawa is considered almost certain to be renamed DPJ head following his election in April after the previous party leader resigned over a scandal and it has become unlikely there will be any rivals, the sources said.

Ozawa is expected to formally announce his candidacy for the Sept. 25 party race later this month along with his agenda for countering the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, they said.

He has indicated he will re-appoint acting DPJ President Naoto Kan and Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama, who have thrown their support behind Ozawa’s return, in reconstituting his leadership lineup.

According to the sources, former DPJ President Seiji Maehara and ex-DPJ Diet affairs chief Yoshihiko Noda, who represent midechelon and relatively junior party members, agreed in mid-July that it would be against their interests to stand in Ozawa’s way by fielding a challenger to force a September election.

Maehara’s predecessor, Katsuya Okada, has told his associates he will not vie with Ozawa despite his popularity with midrank and relatively junior lawmakers, they said.

Some party members have called for an election with at least two candidates to prevent the DPJ “race” from being overshadowed by the LDP’s Sept. 20 presidential election to pick Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s successor.

They suggested asking fresh faces, including Akihisa Nagashima and Keiichiro Asao, who are the DPJ’s shadow defense and foreign ministers, respectively, to actually run against Ozawa, but the idea has so far failed to win broad support due to the incumbent’s dominance.

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