TOKYO, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Japan's former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara was selected by the main opposition Democratic Party on Friday as its new leader, seeing off his rival Yukio Edano, a political heavyweight who previously served as chief cabinet secretary when the party was in power.

Maehara, 55, previously led the main opposition party when it was known as the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The party was in power between 2009 and 2012.

The Democratic Party's presidential election was brought about after former leader Renho announced her resignation from the top post following a dismal performance by the party in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election in July.

At the time of the metropolitan assembly, Renho and the Democratic Party failed to capitalize on a series of scandals plaguing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), an influence-peddling scandal of which implicated Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who also leads the LDP.

The party has been hit by a number of its members jumping ship due to their dissatisfaction with the party's lack of clout in parliament and overall leadership.

Maehara will, thus, be charged with boosting unity within the party ahead of the next lower house election that must be held by the end of next year.