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NEW LDP PRESIDENT VOWS TO BUILD PARTY’S STANDING

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Newly elected Liberal Democratic Party president Yohei Kono vowed Friday to rebuild his party so it could regain its standing in the powerful House of Representatives.

Kono, elected LDP president earlier in the day, is the first party leader to fail to become prime minister since the party formed 38 years ago. The LDP was bounced from power after elections in mid-July.The 56-year-old Kono defeated former Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe, 70, by 208 votes to 159 at a special meeting of the party's lawmakers to become president.

He scoffed at a seven-party opposition coalition, formed to oust the LDP from power, saying they held different agendas.

Kono will face Morihoro Hosokawa, leader of the 14-month-old Japan New Party, in a special session to elect a new prime minister of the parliament likely to convene around Aug. 5. Hosokawa has six other parties in the opposition rainbow coalition backing his quest for the premiership.

"I want to give deep consideration to the LDP's past in making the utmost efforts to revive the party," Kono said. "I want to meet everybody's expectations in reflecting on the past of the LDP, a responsible party which always fights."

The new LDP president said his party has to introduce electoral reform by combining single-seat constituencies with a proportional representative system, and it must root out corruption.

"Political reform has been one of my main goals for 17 years," Kono said. "It must be carried out at any cost upon consensus from the Japanese public."

Kono called on Hosokawa, 55, to spell out his ideas for the special parliamentary session next week, saying the electorate has "great anxiety and some interest" in how the coalition plans to rule.

Hosokawa, 55, was picked at a meeting of the JNP, the Social Democratic Party, Shinseito (Renewal Party), the Buddist-backed Komeito (Clean Government Party), the Democratic Socialist Party, Sakigake (Harbinger) and the United Social Democratic Party, which agreed to unite to oust the LDP from office.