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Fukuda Apparently Set for Victory in Contest for Japanese Prime Minister


Members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party are casting their votes for a successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who abruptly resigned on September 12. As VOA's Naomi Martig reports from Hong Kong, Yasuo Fukuda, a political moderate, is expected to win a decisive victory.

Yasuo Fukuda is a moderate politician who was the country's longest-serving chief cabinet secretary. His opponent is the conservative secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, Taro Aso, a former foreign minister.

Polls suggest Fukuda will secure 60 to 70 percent of the votes. LDP member Taro Kono said Fukuda is well respected for his ability to deal with all factions. "A lot of people feel safe if Fukuda come in power, and try to coordinate among all the opinions," he said.

Fukuda has spoken of the need for reconciliation with Japan's Asian neighbors, while Aso has prompted anger in the region by calling China's military buildup a threat, and with comments interpreted as justifying Japan's militaristic past.

Sunday's vote is for LDP president, the party's top position. The winner will automatically become prime minister, because the party controls the country's powerful lower house of parliament.

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