TOKYO, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Industry Minister Banri Kaieda appeared the front-runner Monday in the race for prime minister of Japan but could face a runoff.
Kaieda, 62, is among five candidates seeking the post of president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, who then normally becomes prime minister.
The winner will succeed Naoto Kan, whose 14-month tenure ended with his resignation last week amid intense pressure over his government's handling of the nuclear crisis set off by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The next party president was to be picked later Monday.
Kyodo News reported Kaieda, known for his pro-China leanings, was ahead among the five contestants as the party's Parliament members prepared to vote.
The 62-year-old Kaieda also enjoys the support of party powerful Ichiro Ozawa and his allies.
Others in the race are former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, former Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi and Farm Minister Michihiko Kano.
Separately Monday, the Japanese government announced various responses the next administration could adopt to tackle the rising yen against the U.S. dollar as that makes Japanese exports costlier, thus affecting recovery of its heavily export-driven economy.
The suggested responses include financial assistance to exporters affected by the yen rise, and encouraging Japanese businesses to sell the yen for U.S. dollars and other major currencies for investments overseas.