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The BBC's Juliet Hindell
"Voting for Japans next Prime Minister was largely a formality"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
New Japanese PM chosen
Mori at party meeting
Yoshiro Mori bows after being chosen to lead the LDP
Japan's lower house of parliament has appointed Yoshiro Mori as the country's new prime minister.

He replaces Keizo Obuchi, who remains in a coma after suffering a stroke.

Mr Mori moved swiftly to reappoint Mr Obuchi's entire cabinet, sending a signal that business was continuing as usual.

I will make every effort to restore the economy to stable growth

Yoshiro Mori
Elections must be held by October 19, and speculation is growing that the new prime minister may call a snap election as early as next month.

Some party bosses believe that they could benefit from public sympathy for the stricken Mr Obuchi.

"It will not be long before a general election is held to win endorsement for the new cabinet," said Tamisuke Watanuki, head of the biggest faction in the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Mr Mori, previously secretary-general of the LDP, was elected with solid majorities in both houses of parliament following his instalment earlier in the day as LDP president.


He has pledged to persist with the economic policies set in motion by Mr Obuchi and promised he would not back-pedal on reforms.

Mr Mori is said to be in good health
Speaking after his elevation, Mr Mori said: "I will continue to pursue Obuchi's economic revitalisation policies and make every effort to restore the economy to stable growth."

He will be expected to turn his immediate attention to the continuing volcanic eruption in northern Japan that has left 13,000 people in emergency shelters.

He must also prepare for the G8 summit of industrialised nations in July.

In addition, concerns have been raised about the LDP's ruling alliance, which began to unravel just before Mr Obuchi's stroke.

Mr Mori is an Obuchi ally who heads one of the main factions in the party.

He has served in a number of cabinet posts, including a year as trade minister, but has never held the key foreign or finance portfolios.


Mr Obuchi had intended to stay in office until October, hoping to revive the country's sluggish economy in a bid to win over voters.

He is in a coma and is breathing only with the help of a respirator in the intensive care unit of a Tokyo hospital.

Keizo Obuchi in Tokyo on Saturday
Party officials said on Wednesday that there had been a slight improvement in his condition, but gave few details.

On Tuesday, the Tokyo Broadcasting System quoted a medical source as saying the prime minister had been "diagnosed as clinically brain dead and doctors continued final treatment".

Mr Obuchi's family has gathered around him, including one daughter, Yuko, who flew in from London.

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See also:

05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Yoshiro Mori
04 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's workaholic culture
04 Apr 00 | Media reports
Media spotlight on Obuchi's illness
02 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Keizo Obuchi
03 Apr 00 | Business
Japan's economy shakes off worries
02 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Mount Usu tremors slow down
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