Japan's new prime minister is Yoshihiko Noda, the former finance minister and "a relative political unknown," The New York Times' Martin Fackler reports. Noda campaigned as a pro-business deficit hawk who could stop deflation; he replaces Naoto Kan, who lost the pubic's confidence following the earthquake that devastated the country nearly six months ago. The Associated Press's Malcolm Foster writes that in Japan, Noda has a reputation as being smart but kind of boring. A local paper described him as a "deep thinker," and Noda will need all those brain cells as he leads Japan's recovery after the radiation leak from the Fukishima nuclear plant that was damaged in the quake.
However, political analysts said his victory was as much about making a fresh start for the Democratic Party, which has floundered since taking power in a historic election victory two years ago. The choice of Mr. Noda, who has no large power base within the party, and is not one of the Democrats' original founding members, appeared to be an effort to find a new common ground for a party that has been undermined by deep divisions.