Yoshihiko Noda, newly elected leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, expressed resolve on Aug. 29 to stick to the policies of outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan and work closely with the opposition camp.

Noda, 54, said in his first news conference after winning a runoff election in the DPJ’s leadership race that he will “abide in good faith with an agreement” made by his party with the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party and its ally the New Komeito party.

Noda, holding the post of finance minister in Kan’s out-going cabinet, was referring to an accord struck earlier in August among the three parties to review a number of the DPJ’s major policies including the child allowance programme.

His rival in the runoff, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda, had hinted at nullifying the accord.

Noda reiterated that he is open to the idea of forming a grand coalition with the LDP.

At a time Japan is struggling with the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster and the ensuing nuclear crisis, fostering good ties with the opposition camp is crucial to passing key legislation in parliament because it controls the House of Councillors and can hamper the passage of bills. The ruling party dominates the more powerful House of Representatives.

Noda, who is set to be named prime minister in parliament on Aug. 30, also pledged to tackle the country’s pressing issues such as reconstructing areas devastated by the March disaster, containing the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and dealing with Japan’s economic woes.

While emphasising cooperation with the opposition block, Noda said in his remarks shortly after winning the runoff that he will do his utmost to boost unity in the ruling party, bearing in mind the party division between lawmakers who are close to power broker Ichiro Ozawa and those who are distant from him./.