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Japanese Foreign Minister Uno to Succeed Takeshita

From Associated Press

Foreign Minister Sosuke Uno agreed today to become Japan’s next prime minister, at the behest of a governing party crippled by scandal and divided by the choice.

The Liberal Democrats turned to Uno, 66, after elder statesman Masayoshi Ito refused the job.

Uno was attending a meeting in Paris and agreed by telephone, apparently with some reluctance, to become head of the party and to replace Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita.

Ryutaro Hashimoto, deputy secretary-general of the party, appeared at a news conference and quoted Uno as saying: “I am not confident I can handle the job when the party is facing such a difficult time, but now that the party is in an unprecedented crisis I will commit myself for the party.”

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Hashimoto said party leaders decided Uno was “currently the most-suited candidate as successor” to Takeshita. The prime minister is resigning to take responsibility for the Recruit influence-buying scandal, which stained the top ranks of politics, business and the bureaucracy.

Opposition within the party indicated Uno may have a difficult time even if he gets the expected approval from Parliament, where the Liberal Democrats have a large majority.

Some oppose the foreign minister because he is a senior member of the party faction of former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, during whose tenure in 1982-87 the scandal developed.

“I am outraged by this nonsense of giving the country’s highest office, which only one person can assume, to a sort of managing director of the Nakasone company,” former Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda told reporters. “I am totally amazed.”

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Fukuda, 84, had lobbied against Uno. His own name was one of many mentioned as possible candidates during the long search.

Tsuruo Yamaguchi, secretary-general of the Japan Socialist Party, the largest opposition group, said: “The Recruit scandal involved corruption during Yasuhiro Nakasone’s administration. It is . . . a violent act to appoint one of Nakasone’s aides as the next prime minister.”


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