• Kyodo


The main opposition Democratic Party’s new leader Renho may appoint former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda as the party’s secretary-general, sources close to the matter said Friday.

Renho, who became the first woman to head the party following Thursday’s leadership election, is also thinking about picking Goshi Hosono, a former environment minister, as deputy leader of the party, the sources said.

She is expected to seek approval of her choices at a meeting of Diet lawmakers to be held at party headquarters Friday afternoon, they said.

Renho is tasked with ensuring party unity after some members apparently took issue with her election following her admission earlier in the week that she had retained Taiwanese citizenship after becoming a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1985.

Insisting that she has begun the process of renouncing her Taiwanese citizenship, Renho said her “uncertain memory” was to blame for previous statements that she had already given it up. Japanese law discourages but does not penalize dual citizenship.

Renho is thought to have asked Noda to become secretary-general, replacing former trade minister Yukio Edano, during their meeting Thursday night at a Tokyo hotel.

A lawmaker in the House of Councilors herself, Renho told a television program the same night she is considering appointing to secretary-general “someone who can properly manage the House of Representatives.”

Renho belongs to an intraparty group loyal to Noda, and has likely judged that picking someone close to her for the role will help keep party operations stable.

But some in the party have called for Renho to choose Hosono to fill the post, even though he is outside the party’s mainstream faction, in light of his significant role in endorsing her early on in the leadership race.

Noda is in his seventh term in the Lower House, having first been elected in 1993 from a constituency in Chiba Prefecture. He became prime minister in September 2011 after serving as finance minister during the three-year rule from 2009 of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Democratic Party’s predecessor.

Under his watch, the DPJ reached an agreement on raising sales tax with the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito — which now rule as a coalition — but fell from power in the December 2012 Lower House election.

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