September 3, 2009 / 1:28 PM / 10 years ago

Ozawa to be No.2 in Japan's new ruling party: reports

TOKYO (Reuters) - Ichiro Ozawa, an influential former leader of the Democratic Party of Japan that won a landslide victory in Sunday’s election, will likely become the party’s No.2 executive, several Japanese media reported on Thursday.

Ozawa was the leader of the party until May, when he was forced to quit after a close aide was nabbed in a funding scandal.

Since then, Ozawa has been doing what many say he does best — working behind the scenes as the party’s chief campaign strategist.

Kyodo news agency quoted Yukio Hatoyama, the current leader of the new ruling party who will be voted in as prime minister on September 16, as telling reporters that he planned to appoint the 67-year-old veteran as the Democrats’ secretary-general, responsible for party affairs and elections.

Analysts had expected a hefty election victory by the Democrats would likely ensure Ozawa took a key role again, as the party turns its attention to how to win an upper house election in mid-2010.

The prospect that he will wield greater clout has raised some concern about an opaque policy-making process, but several analysts said predictions that the politician who has fascinated pundits and the public for decades would call all the shots were overdone.

Reporting by Yoko Nishikawa; Editing by Alex Richardson

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