Japan’s PM Yoshihiko Noda in party leadership vote
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is facing a party leadership vote against three challengers, just over a year after assuming office.
Mr Noda, Japan’s sixth prime minister in six years, is expected to win the vote and hang on to power.
He became head of the Democratic Party of Japan after Naoto Kan resigned, following criticism over the handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Mr Noda faced pressure over a controversial sales tax rise this year.
The candidates going up against Mr Noda in the race for DPJ chief include two former farm ministers, Michihiko Kano and Hirotaka Akamatsu, and a former internal affairs minister, Kazuhiro Haraguchi.
Analysts expect Mr Noda to easily win the vote as key figures such as former PM Kan and policy chief Seiji Maehara said that they would back him.
The controversial tax rise saw bitter disagreement and gridlock among Japan’s lawmakers and caused a rift in the ruling DPJ.
Mr Noda said that doubling the tax from 5% to 10% by 2015 was key to cutting Japan’s high public debt and funding rising welfare costs.
Pictured: Mr Noda (centre) is expected to win the party leadership vote over the other candidates