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Japan's new ruling party focuses on economic woes

JAPAN'S Democratic Party, fresh from a landslide weekend election victory, met senior financial bureaucrats today as the transition to a new government stepped up a gear.

Parliament was likely to vote Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama in as prime minister in about two weeks, a party official told reporters. Hatoyama has said he will announce his cabinet line-up shortly afterwards, possibly on Sept. 17, the Mainichi newspaper said.

With unemployment at a record high and fears persisting over deflation and public debt, the economy will be one of the new government's main concerns.

Hatoyama exchanged views on economic matters with Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa, while top finance bureaucrat Yasutake Tango met members of the party to discuss the agenda for a meeting of G20 finance ministers in London at the end of the week.

Outgoing Economics Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi warned today about the risks of deflation and urged the new government to consider carefully its exit strategy from the stimulus measures introduced to help the economy weather the crisis.

Japan's public debt has ballooned to 170 percent of GDP, the highest among developed nations, due to its repeated attempts to pull itself out of the economic doldrums over the past two decades.

Some investors are concerned about fiscal discipline under the Democrats, who have promised policies such as cash handouts for parents of young children, but the party has said it will clamp down on spending in other areas to fund its new policies.


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