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Yoshihiko Noda wins race to become Japan's new leader

Finance Minister faces tough challenges after beating favorite to win party race.

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Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda answers questions after being elected as the new leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in Tokyo on August 29, 2011. (Toru YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan's Finance Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, was on Monday elected to head of Japan’s ruling party – paving the way for him to become the country's sixth prime minister in five years.

Lawmakers from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) voted 215 to 177 for Noda in a run-off against Trade Minister Banri Kaieda. Favorite Seiji Maehara was eliminated in the first ballot.

The 54-year-old Noda told DPJ lawmakers in Tokyo:

I’m firmly resolved to carry this heavy burden and ask for your support. Let’s brace ourselves and work to achieve stable, reliable government.

The BBC reports that Noda is expected to be confirmed by parliament as premier tomorrow, succeeding Naoto Kan, who announced his resignation as Prime Minister on Friday.

Kan, who had been in office for almost 15 months, came under harsh criticism for the government's slow response to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

He was also accused of mishandling the ensuing nuclear crisis.

(Read more on GlobalPost: Fukushima cesium "equals 168 Hiroshimas")

Noda will be tasked with resolving the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, as well as protecting the country's economy as the yen currency soars.

Noda advocated an increase in levies to help pay for reconstruction from quake and nuclear disaster.

Following his win, he said there were “issues of timing” in deciding which taxes to increase, reported Bloomberg. Noda added that he would wait for a government panel to release its recommendations.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/japan/110829/japan-pm-naoto-kan-yoshihiko-noda