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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Japanese opposition picks leader
Ichiro Ozawa
Mr Ozawa said he wanted the "renewal of our party"
Japan's main opposition Democratic Party has elected veteran politician Ichiro Ozawa as its new leader.

Mr Ozawa, a former leading figure in the ruling Liberal Democrats, beat rival Naoto Kan by 119 votes to 72.

The election came after the resignation of Seiji Maehara in March after only six months in charge.

He said he was taking responsibility for a scandal in which his party falsely accused the son of an LDP member of links to a disgraced firm.

Mr Maehara had taken over after the Democratic Party was crushed in elections by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Power struggle

Mr Ozawa himself has admitted the Democratic Party's standing is so low that many see the nation's two-party system in danger of collapse.

DPJ CRISIS TIMELINE
September 2005: DPJ hit by election loss - Seiji Maehara appointed party leader
13 February 2006: Livedoor boss Takafumi Horie charged with breaking securities law
16 February: Hisayasu Nagata makes allegation during parliamentary meeting
28 February: Mr Nagata and DPJ announce email was faked, issue public apology
14 March: DPJ places apology in six national newspapers
31 March: DPJ leader Seiji Maehara resigns
7 April: Ichiro Ozawa elected leader

After his election he said: "I feel great responsibility when I consider the tasks ahead - the renewal of our party and our road to power."

Mr Ozawa, 63, left the LDP in 1993 after losing a power struggle and joined the Democrats after they formed in 1998.

Commentators say he is a shrewd strategist but has been criticised for what some see as a high-handed attitude.

A conservative, Mr Ozawa wrote a book in 1993 calling for a build-up of Japan's military. But he has also pledged to improve ties with China and the Koreas.

The Democratic Party was rocked by the scandal in which a party member said he had an email which proved links existed between the beleaguered head of disgraced internet company Livedoor and the son of the secretary-general of the LDP.

The allegations proved to be unfounded. The DPJ withdrew them and issued a public apology.



SEE ALSO:
Japan opposition leader resigns
31 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Koizumi secures landslide victory
12 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan's LDP in lead ahead of poll
09 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Livedoor chief Horie is charged
13 Feb 06 |  Business
Livedoor chief Horie steps down
24 Jan 06 |  Business
Japan's outspoken internet bosses
18 Jan 06 |  Business


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