Japan's parliament elected Yukio Hatoyama as the country's new prime minister on Wednesday. The vote by the lower house of the parliament was virtually assured. His Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won a landslide election last month, and controls 308 of the lower chamber's 480 seats.
Liberal Democratic Party Prime Minister Taro Aso resigned early Wednesday, setting the stage for Hatoyama to take over the reins of government.
Last month, Japanese voters swept Aso's party -- which had governed Japan for nearly 50 years -- from power in the wake of Japan's worst recession since World War II, CNN reports.
Voters last month gave Hatoyama, 62, a historic mandate, jettisoning the Liberal Democratic Party, which had governed for 54 of the past 55 years. Four LDP prime ministers in three years failed to tackle the public’s biggest concern: a shrinking, aging population that has brought soaring welfare costs and record government debt.
"There’s been this pent-up frustration in Japan about a lack of leadership," said Glen Fukushima, a former U.S. trade negotiator who now heads Airbus SAS’s Japan unit. Hatoyama must "raise the motivation of the Japanese public, which for the last several years has been pretty much in the dumps," Bloomberg informs.
"I am excited by the prospect of changing history," Hatoyama said early Wednesday. "The battle starts now."
His first task is to name a Cabinet. Media reports said he had already chosen Katsuya Okada as his foreign minister and Hirohisa Fujii as his finance minister. Though Okada has never held a Cabinet post, Fujii was finance minister under a coalition government in 1993-94, the only time in its 55-year history that the Liberal Democrats had previously been ousted from power, The Associated Press reports.
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