TOKYO, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is widely expected to win the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)'s presidential election later this month.
Noda, along with three rivals from the DPJ, announced Monday that they will run in the ballot slated for Sept. 21. He will face challenges from former Internal Affairs Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi, former Agriculture Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, and another ex-Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano, none of whom are high-profile politicians.
Though Noda has a strong likelihood of winning the reelection as party chief, his days as prime minister may be numbered due to widespread dissatisfaction over a perceived lack of leadership and inner discord within his party.
Noda's approval rating has tumbled below 30 percent after his government pushed bills to double sales tax through parliament to meet rising social security costs and gave green light to reopening two nuclear reactors after all of them were closed following last year's nuclear crisis in Fukushima.
Recent surveys show the Japanese public overwhelmingly embraces a complete phase-out of nuclear energy.
"I decided to run for the party presidential election as I can' t abandon the task of rebuilding the party and revitalizing Japan, " Noda told the media as all four candidates gathered in Tokyo.
The DPJ came to power in 2009 after five decades of almost incessant rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which will hold their presidential election on Sept. 26.