TOKYO — The five candidates vying to become Japan's next prime minister promised Sunday to resolve the country's nuclear crisis and revive its battered economy, amid widespread public cynicism about a revolving door of leaders.
Japan — which is set to see its sixth prime minister in five years — has fumbled recently to find leadership to tackle formidable challenges, including recovery from a massive earthquake and tsunami in March and the battle to control a nuclear power plant sent into meltdown by the disasters.
None of the five candidates looking to replace Naoto Kan as prime minister is expected to win the needed majority of 200 votes in balloting among legislators in the ruling Democratic Party in the first round of voting, set for today. If no one gets a majority, a run-off between the top two candidates would follow.
The winner of the Democrats' leadership vote is almost certain to become the nation's next prime minister because the party controls the lower house of Parliament, which chooses Japan's chief.
Japanese media reports said Economy Minister Banri Kaieda had a slight lead over other candidates. Facing off against Kaieda are former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano and former Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi.