Yasuo Fukuda is elected as LDP President, Japan

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reports indicate Yasuo Fukuda (71), the former Chief Cabinet Secretary has been elected to be the new president of the Liberal Democratic Party - the ruling party of Japan. This will put him in place as the successor of Prime Minister and LDP President Shinzo Abe, who announced his coming resignation 11 days ago. Reuters states Fukuda won the party presidential election which was held Sunday afternoon in Tokyo; he got 330 votes from eligible voters, lawmakers of the party and representatives of 47 prefecture level branches, thus defeating his sole opponent Taro Aso (67), the former foreign minister, who received 197 votes.

Chugoku Shimbun reports Aso got more votes than his core supporters had expected. On September 23, his supporters held a meeting in Tokyo but only 44 lawmakers attended. His supporters therefore guessed the total votes he would get would be around 90 but expect now his "loss in a good fight" rather strengthens his position in the party and hence in Japanese politics.

Yomiuri Shimbun reports that slightly larger number of party members voted for Aso than Fukuda in local level elections, while Fukuda got 76 votes of 141, which had been assigned to prefecture level LDP branches, and Aso received 65. LDP headquarter allows each branches to choose their preferable decision making way, and 35 branches choose voting. In those branches, 253,692 eligible voters voted Aso, 250,613 voted Fukuda. 12 branches didn't allow every member to join decision making, and Fukuda seized the support from eight of those 12 branches. Aso was strongly supported by the areas which have major cities, while Fukuda was supported in rural districts.

Since LDP has lawmakers many enough to have their favorite person win the prime minister nomination, Fukuda is likely to succeed to Abe as prime minister also. Reports say the Diets will hold the prime minister elections on September 25.