New Japanese PM Likely to Be Less US-Centric

Party unites around dovish elder statesman Yasuo Fukuda
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2007 9:30 AM CDT
Liberal Democratic Party's candidate to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, left, and former Foreigh Minister Taro Aso bow to the crowd during the ruling party...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Japan's Liberal Democratic Party is set to choose its replacement for Shinzo Abe, who resigned suddenly last week, in voting Sunday. The winner will become prime minister Tuesday. Although early prognoses hyped hawk Taro Aso as the favorite, his close association with the outgoing PM has hurt him. Victory is almost assured for his opponent, the 71-year-old chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda.

Although he has already pledged to continue Japan's strategic alliance with the US, including its unpopular involvement in Afghanistan, Fukuda is expected to be less US-centric his thinking, exhibiting new openness to his Asian neighbors, including  China and North Korea. Whether Fukuda, the son of renowned former prime minister Takeo Fukuda, will be able to lead the LDP to yet another general election victory remains unclear.