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Aso Becomes Japan's New Prime Minister


Lawmakers in Japan's lower house of parliament have confirmed Taro Aso as the country's new prime minister.

The 68-year-old veteran politician was approved Wednesday to succeed Yasuo Fukuda, who quit abruptly earlier this month. Mr. Aso was elected leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in a landslide on Monday.

The upper house of parliament backed Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which controls the upper house for the prime minister's post. But the decision of the lower house, which is dominated by the LDP, carries the day under Japan's constitution.

Mr. Aso is moving swiftly to form a new government. He has tapped ex-education minister Hirofumi Nakasone as foreign minister, while Shoichi Nakagawa has been named finance minister.

Kaoru Yosana will retain the economics portfolio.

Mr. Aso, an outspoken nationalist notorious for making bizarre, off-the-cuff remarks, has pledged to cut taxes and increase public spending to stimulate Asia's largest economy.

He is expected to call for snap elections to be held as early as October 26.

Mr. Fukuda stepped down over his perceived mishandling of the economy and an inability to break a political gridlock with the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in parliament.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.