• Kyodo

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The two candidates in the Democratic Party of Japan’s presidential election battered each other Sunday in street speeches in Osaka, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan emphasizing party management and transparent use of political funds, and rival Ichiro Ozawa vowing to put policymaking in the hands of politicians rather than bureaucrats.

“I want all of you to join (the electoral process) to determine whether you will entrust Mr. Ozawa (with the DPJ leadership) or continue to let me serve as leader,” Kan told the crowd.

In an apparent reference to Ozawa’s image as a backroom deal maker and a scandal involving his fund management body, Kan said, “I will make our party’s administration and its use of financial resources open.”

Ozawa, for his part, said, “I’m ready to lead the nation and help it to overcome its difficulties as it is going through tough times. . . . We were entrusted with power after promising to promote politician-led policymaking and I want to move this promise forward.”

In a harsh attack on the Kan administration, Ozawa suggested it lacks the determination to promote policies under its own initiative and so will be fooled by the bureaucrats.

The winner of the Sept. 14 leadership contest will automatically become prime minister due to the party’s majority in the House of Representatives, the Diet’s more powerful lower chamber.

“Japan will not achieve progress unless this authority is handed over to local governments,” Ozawa said, asserting that the bureaucracy entrenched in the Kasumigaseki district holds the ultimate authority in determining the destination for budgetary appropriations.

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