Japan’s governing party elected Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda to become the next prime minister on Monday, choosing a relative political unknown to lead this shaken nation’s recovery from the tsunami and nuclear accident in March, and revive its moribund economy.
It was a surprise victory for Mr. Noda, who had been seen running a distant third before Monday’s internal vote by the Democratic Party. During the campaign, Mr. Noda ran largely on economic issues, presenting himself as a pro-business, fiscal conservative who could rein in Japan’s ballooning national debt while taming the soaring yen and battling crippling price declines known as deflation.
However, political analysts said his victory was as much about seeking a fresh start for the Democratic Party, which has floundered since taking power in a historic election two years ago. The choice of Mr. Noda, who has no large power base within the party, and is not one of the Democrats’ original founding members, appeared to be an effort to move beyond deep divisions that have undermined the party.
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