Japan’s ruling party elected Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda its new chief Monday, paving the way for him to be the next prime minister and inherit the daunting task of recovering from the huge tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Noda, 54, is known as a fiscal conservative and has lately been battling a sluggish economy, bulging national debt and the yen’s record surge, which hurts Japan’s exporters by making their products more expensive overseas.
As prime minister - Japan’s sixth in five years - he will have to broaden his scope to deal with the continuing reconstruction from the March 11 quake and tsunami along the northeastern coast and the 100,000 people who remain dislocated because of radiation leaking from a tsunami-damaged nuclear plant.
“Let us sweat together for the sake of the people,” he said after the vote. “This is my heartfelt wish.”
Noda will replace Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who announced Friday that he is resigning after nearly 15 months in office plagued by public discontent over political infighting and his administration’s handling of the disasters.