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OBUCHI RE-ELECTED HEAD OF RULING PARTY

Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi easily won re-election Tuesday as head of his party, ensuring that Japan will keep pumping public money into the economy to spur recovery.

Obuchi's campaign stressed that he needed a fresh term as prime minister to make sure that the economic turnaround that his policies helped engineer keeps going. He had repeatedly promised to pass a substantial economy-boosting package as soon as he won re-election.

The head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party automatically becomes prime minister because the party controls the majority in both houses of the Diet, or parliament.

Obuchi won 350 votes, about 70 percent of those cast in the three-way contest. Former party Secretary-General Koichi Kato got 113 votes, while former Construction Minister Taku Yamasaki had 51.

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