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BBC's Juliet Hindell in Tokyo
"New face, old ideas"
 real 28k

Friday, 7 April, 2000, 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
Mori pledges Japan 'rebirth'
Yoshiro Mori
Mr Mori (centre) has promised not to rock the boat
Japan's new Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, has given his inaugural speech to parliament, promising a nationwide revival by promoting economic recovery and reforming the education system.

But he pledged to continue the policies of his predecessor, who is fighting for his life after a stroke, and made no cabinet changes.

"I will launch this cabinet as the Japan revival cabinet," he told the lower house in a televised address, two days after being named to succeed Keizo Obuchi.

Mr Mori promised to win trust at home and abroad and said he would not delay market reforms.

I am ready to stake my life on the nation's politics

Yoshiro Mori
He also vowed to pursue painful structural adjustment even as he promised to ease fears about high unemployment.

"We must not hesitate on reforms for the new era," he said. "I am ready to stake my life on the nation's politics."

He said his government aimed to make the transition from an economy dependent on massive public spending to a self-sustaining recovery.

But Mr Mori did little to flesh out those and other promises to improve social infrastructure, implement regulatory reform and promote information technology as the catalyst for growth.

Election calls

And the speech provided no clues on the timing of a general election, which must be held by October.

Mori and Obuchi
Mr Mori (left) said it was his destiny to succeed Mr Obuchi (right)

Correspondents say it is unlikely to stem speculation of an early poll to let voters give their verdict on the new leader.

The latest opinion poll, published by the Yomiuri newspaper, showed that Mr Mori's Liberal Democratic Party has climbed 10% in popularity since Keizo Obuchi became ill.

Mr Obuchi suffered a stroke on Sunday and remains in a coma on a life support machine. Reports say his condition could stay the same for some time.

Mr Mori, who was previously second-in-command of the Liberal Democrats, was appointed to replace Mr Obuchi as party president on Wednesday - and the LDP majority in parliament then voted him in as prime minister.

In a signal of continuity, he reappointed the entire cabinet which had served under his predecessor.

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See also:

06 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese PM urged to call election
05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Yoshiro Mori
05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
New Japanese PM chosen
04 Apr 00 | Media reports
Media spotlight on Obuchi's illness
04 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's workaholic culture
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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