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Democratic Party of Japan heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa said Saturday he would stake his political life on serving as the nation’s leader, while Prime Minister Naoto Kan reiterated his resolve to revitalize the nation’s economy as the two contenders sought to garner support in the party’s leadership race.

“I will strive to work for you by staking my entire political life,” Ozawa said in a joint event with Kan where they gave campaign speeches in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district on Saturday afternoon.

Ozawa also said he is ready to fulfill the duties of prime minister.

“Japan’s prime minister will be chosen in the (party) election. I should not avoid responsibility at a time when the nation is facing great political and economic difficulties,” he said.

It is almost certain that the winner of the election will also be prime minister because the DPJ holds a majority in the powerful Lower House.

Ozawa reiterated that he will bring about a shift of control over decision-making to politicians from the country’s bureaucrats to implement the pledges the DPJ made in last year’s general election win.

In responding to Ozawa’s criticism over the way to compile the fiscal 2011 budget, Kan, who is seeking re-election as head of the party in the Sept. 14 race, said in the joint event that he will come up with a budget designed to boost the nation’s economy.

“I will definitely create jobs and compile the fiscal 2011 budget aimed at revitalizing the nation’s economy,” Kan said.

He also pledged to improve cooperation between politicians, bureaucrats and business to better serve the general public.

It is the first weekend since official campaigning for the party election began. Kan and Ozawa are seeking to garner support from rank-and-file party members and party supporters who will be eligible to vote in the election in addition to 412 DPJ lawmakers, and local assembly members belonging to the party.

The two plan to hold joint events for campaign speeches in Osaka on Sunday and in Sapporo on Thursday.

In the morning, Kan attended a meeting in Tokyo of lawmakers and others who support him in the race and said that the election should be held in such a way as to reflect the general public’s views on who they would prefer to be prime minister. Kan said he wants “to achieve a politics that ensures the participation of citizens,” adding that the party election “should be a race in which the general public chooses the nation’s prime minister.”

No-confidence vote JIJI Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku on Friday said Democratic Party of Japan heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa could face a no-confidence motion if he is indicted over the financial scandal involving his fund management body, even if he becomes prime minister.

Ozawa is awaiting a second verdict by a prosecution inquest panel that is examining his role in the political funding scandal. If the panel again votes against him, the indictment will be automatic.

Ozawa, who is attempting to unseat Prime Minister Naoto Kan in the DPJ’s Sept. 14 leadership election, has said he would squarely face prosecution if indicted.

Asked at a news conference whether an indicted prime minister could stay in the job, Sengoku cited an article by a late constitutional scholar that points out the House of Representatives can topple a Cabinet anytime with a no-confidence motion.

Sengoku said he has nothing to add to the article, which was carried by the daily Asahi Shimbun.

If such a motion is passed, the prime minister must dissolve the Lower House for a snap election or the Cabinet must resign en masse.

Sengoku, a lawyer, supports Kan in the DPJ presidential race.

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