TOKYO - Japan Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda is to be voted in on Tuesday as the country's sixth prime minister in five years amid doubts he can unite his fractious ruling party while tackling myriad economic ills and a nuclear crisis.
Noda, a 54-year-old fiscal hawk who wants to curb Japan's huge public debt, was elected head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in a bruising run-off. He had come in second among five candidates in an inconclusive initial round.
The challenges he faces are legion: coping with a strong yen that threatens to undermine exports, forging a new energy policy while ending a crisis at a crippled nuclear plant, rebuilding Japan's tsunami-devastated northeast and finding funds to pay for that and bulging social security costs in the ageing society.
Noda repeated his call for "prudent fiscal management" on Tuesday at a final news conference as finance minister, but he acknowledged that the economy faced downside risks.