Maehara’s Misstep May Become Blessing in Japan Leadership Race

Seiji Maehara’s resignation as Japan’s foreign minister on March 6 over a campaign financing violation forced him to put his political ambitions on hold. That setback may turn out to be a blessing.

Five days after he quit, an earthquake and tsunami wrecked Japan’s northeast, killing at least 15,000 people and causing a nuclear disaster that forced 60,000 from their homes. Prime Minister Naoto Kan, blamed by the opposition and Democratic Party of Japan colleagues for a slow reaction to a meltdown at an atomic power plant, has signaled he’ll resign as early as today, paving the way for an Aug. 29 DPJ leadership race.

“Maehara is untainted by the last five months of Kan’s administration and the disaster response,” said Jun Okumura, a senior adviser at the Eurasia Group in Tokyo, who added that Maehara will also benefit from being the public’s favorite to succeed Kan in opinion polls. “Many DPJ Diet members will be making their choice with the next election in mind.”

Read the rest of the story: Maehara’s Misstep May Become Blessing in Japan Leadership Race – Businessweek.

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