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OSAKA — Having seen a new prime minister every year for five consecutive years, Japan has just narrowly avoided having its third in 2010. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has been elected president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), surviving a challenge from Ichiro Ozawa, the DPJ’s most potent behind-the-scenes power broker. Had Kan lost to Ozawa, he would have lost the premiership to him as well.

With DPJ lawmakers almost equally split, Kan’s victory is being attributed to the support of general and associate party members. Their vote was more in line with recent public-opinion polls, which showed popular support running at 7-2 in favor of Kan over Ozawa.

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