Japan's Aso to stand for prime minister-Kyodo

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TOKYO, Sep 14 (Reuters) Taro Aso, a heavyweight in Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, confirmed to reporters that he will run for leadership of the party, and thus the premiership, Kyodo news agency said today.

The leadership poll will be held on September 23 in a bid to avoid an extended power vacuum after incumbent Shinzo Abe's shock announcement that he would resign this week, just as he was due to appear in parliament.

''I want to stand,'' Kyodo quoted Aso as saying at a Tokyo hotel.

Now the No. 2 in the LDP, the 66-year-old Aso has served in key cabinet jobs including as foreign minister and economic planning minister. A political blue-blood, he appeals to fellow fans of ''manga'' comics, but has stirred controversy with verbal blunders.

A security hawk, the 66-year-old Aso is among the conservatives who insist Japan should maintain a tradition of allowing only males to inherit the imperial throne.

REUTERS SKB KP0847

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