Yoshihiko Noda became a Cabinet member for the first time in June last year when he was made finance minister in Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration. Noda took on the task of rebuilding the nation's finances and curbing the yen's sharp rise.
Noda has been dubbed a puppet of the Finance Ministry by some, but is also rated highly for his peaceful and stable demeanor.
Noda was one of the first people to graduate from the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, the leadership development institute established by Konosuke Matsushita (1894-1989), founder of what is today known as the Panasonic Group. Noda will be the first graduate from the institute to become prime minister.
Noda was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 on a Japan New Party ticket, having earlier served as a member of the Chiba prefectural assembly.
He later left the JNP to join the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto), and then moved to the Democratic Party of Japan.
Noda ran in the DPJ presidential election in 2002 as "a representative of young politicians," but was defeated by Yukio Hatoyama.
In 2006, Noda resigned as chair of the DPJ Diet Affairs Committee to take responsibility for a scandal over a fake e-mail involving then lower house DPJ member Hisayasu Nagata. At the time, he was criticized for the weakness of his defense.
During the three-day campaign for Monday's DPJ presidential election, Noda appealed to his colleagues, "We have to get past politics driven by deep grudges."
Noda tried to reconcile with former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa's intraparty group, the largest group in the DPJ.
Noda is known as a good speaker, and for more than 20 years has honed his oratorial skills by making morning visits to Chiba Prefecture railway stations to speak about his policies to commuters. He began the practice in 1986 before he ran in the Chiba prefectural assembly election in 1987.
Noda's first thoughts about becoming a politician were inspired by something his parents said when he was a child. Noda saw a news report about the 1960 assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, then the Japan Socialist Party's president, and Noda's parents said, "Politicians risk their lives."
Noda likes watching combat sports, including professional wrestling. He has a second-degree belt in judo and loves drinking sake.