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New Komeito acting Secretary General Akihiro Ota is set to replace Takenori Kanzaki as party head, New Komeito members said Wednesday.

The change in the leadership of New Komeito, the first since 1998, will be formalized at a party convention scheduled for Sept. 30, where Ota is expected to run unopposed, they said.

Secretary General Tetsuzo Fuyushiba will also step down. Kazuo Kitagawa, who serves as minister of land, infrastructure and transport, is likely to replace Fuyushiba, they said.

Ota, 60, is expected to keep Komeito in the ruling bloc with the Liberal Democratic Party.

The LDP will hold a presidential election to pick a successor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sept. 20. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the front-runner in that race, seeks to revise the Constitution to allow the Self-Defense Forces to engage in collective defense. New Komeito is likely to oppose this.

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