Japan win cheers new government

TOKYO - When new Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan compared his ruling Democratic Party to the country's little favoured World Cup team last week, some listeners shook their heads at what seemed a less than felicitous analogy.

On Tuesday, after underdogs Japan shook off a run of miserable form to defeat Cameroon for their first World Cup win on foreign soil, the comparison no longer seemed so unfortunate.

"In soccer terms, like Okada Japan, what I must first do is revive the Democratic Party, which I now lead," Kan told a news conference after being voted in to replace Yukio Hatoyama, whose perceived lack of leadership had dragged down voter ratings.

Support for Kan's Democratic Party has rebounded since the former grassroots activist took the helm, improving its chances in an upper house election expected on July 11.

"Instead of being disheartened by harsh criticism, the coach, players and fans joined as one to seize victory," Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Motohisa Furukawa told a news conference.

"This cabinet also wants to join as one team, listen to the voice of the people and achieve solid results."

Coach Takeshi Okada's Blue Samurai take on the Netherlands at the weekend before their final Group E game against Denmark on June 24.

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