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Japan’s Deputy Leader Kan Supports Hatoyama as Approval Tumbles

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s deputy rallied behind him as the Japanese leader’s popularity tumbles six weeks before upper house elections.

“Of course each of us has to make our own efforts to win trust for the election but there’s no change in my support for the prime minister,” Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference in Tokyo today. “I have been saying that I want him to stay in the position for the maximum term of four years and there’s no change to that.”

Kan, who is also finance minister, said he plans to attend this week’s meeting of his counterparts from the Group of 20 economies in Busan, South Korea, as scheduled.

Hatoyama’s public support since taking power in September has plunged over campaign finance scandals and his vacillating over where to move a U.S. military base. Three polls released yesterday showed his approval rating at or below 20 percent.

Kan, along with National Strategy Minister Yoshito Sengoku and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, would be a likely candidate to replace Hatoyama should he step down before next month’s elections, said Gerald Curtis, a professor of Japanese politics at Columbia University in New York.

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