Ruling party picks Fukuda to lead Japan

Other News Materials 23 September 2007 18:48 (UTC +04:00)

(Reuters) Japan's ruling party on Sunday picked Yasuo Fukuda, an advocate of warmer ties with Asian neighbors, to be the next prime minister, but the 71-year-old lawmaker faces a likely policy deadlock in a divided parliament.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) rallied behind Fukuda, who is seen as a competent moderate, hoping he can bring stability and stave off calls for an early election after a year of scandal and missteps that ended in the sudden resignation of Shinzo Abe.

The bespectacled Fukuda, almost overcome with emotion, bowed to applause from LDP lawmakers and officials when the result of the vote was announced at the party's Tokyo headquarters.

"I'm not highly educated or talented, and I don't have much experience," said Fukuda, the son of a former prime minister.

"But despite that, you have chosen me as party president. I am moved," he said, with traditional Japanese humility.

Fukuda won a solid 330 of the 527 valid votes cast against 197 for outspoken rival Taro Aso , a hawkish former foreign minister.

The new party leader will be chosen prime minister on Tuesday by virtue of the ruling camp's huge majority in parliament's lower house, but he will face a feisty opposition that won control of the upper house in a July election and can now delay legislation.