• Kyodo News

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Prime Minister Naoto Kan called anew Saturday for unity within his Democratic Party of Japan ahead of next Tuesday’s party leadership election against rival Ichiro Ozawa.

Kan said on a street in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district that the DPJ needs to “work together as a team” because party leadership “cannot be created and asserted by just one politician,” alluding to Ozawa’s wheeling-and-dealing style.

“Let me continue as the front-runner until the time I pass the baton to the next generation of leaders,” Kan said in the stump speech, joined by his supporters including government revitalization minister Renho and welfare minister Akira Nagatsuma.

Kan reiterated that a serious division within the DPJ will not follow whoever wins the upcoming election, which effectively decides the country’s prime minister because of the party’s control of the Diet’s Lower House.

“Our party will naturally unite and I’ll prepare to put the right people in the right places,” Kan said as he referred to his readiness to reshuffle his Cabinet and the top posts of the DPJ if he wins the election.

Meanwhile, former DPJ Secretary General Ozawa spent Saturday afternoon visiting the Tsukiji fish market and local shopping districts in Tokyo.

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