TOKYO, JAPAN - Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan, riding high on opinion poll ratings above 60 percent, was to unveil key posts in his centre-left party Monday, the eve of the formal launch of his government.
He succeeded Yukio Hatoyama on Friday to become Japan's fifth prime minister in four years after Hatoyama stumbled over a dispute about a US airbase and became mired in political funding scandals.
Kan, who previously served as Hatoyama's finance minister, will formally launch his cabinet on Tuesday when Emperor Akihito will swear in the new premier and his ministers at a palace ceremony.
Many key ministers are expected to stay in their current posts, including Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and Transport Minister Seiji Maehara.
Kan is expected to name his former deputy, 52-year-old fiscal hawk Yoshihiko Noda, to head the finance ministry as pressure mounts to revive the world's number two economy and slash mounting public debt.
On Monday Kan plans to announce key posts in his ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) after a general meeting of DPJ lawmakers starting 0700 GMT.
'Reflecting his own style, our new prime minister Kan is now going ahead with a lineup that can meet people's expectations,' Azuma Koshiishi, a senior figure of the DPJ, told reporters.
Public support for Kan, a one-time leftist activist, surged to 66.7 percent, compared with 20 percent or less for the Hatoyama cabinet, according to an opinion poll by TV network Tokyo Broadcasting System.
Some 70 percent supported the resignation last week of millionaire-premier Hatoyama, and 27 percent said they would vote for Kan's DPJ, up from 16 percent last month, in upper house elections in July, the broadcaster said.
When Hatoyama resigned, he took controversial party secretary general Ichiro Ozawa, dubbed the 'Shadow Shogun", with him, as both had become mired in funding scandals that resulted in the arrests of close aides.
Kan, who serves as the DPJ's president, has said he would appoint Yukio Edano, a 46-year-old critic of Ozawa, to the number two post in the DPJ.
In his first telephone talks with US President Barack Obama at the weekend, Kan stressed that he is 'an ordinary citizen' compared with many of other Japanese premiers who hail from rich political dynasties.
Kan received only S$13 590 (900,000 yen) in corporate campaign donations in 2008 and has 22.31 million yen in assets, including those held by his wife, far less than Hatoyama's 1.4 billion yen, Kyodo News reported.