Japan's Fukuda to run for prime minister

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TOKYO, Sep 14 (Reuters) Former chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda told his party faction today he will run for the leadership of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and hence the premiership.

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 on Wednesday that he would resign just as he was due to appear in parliament.

''Since I am being encouraged to stand, my will to do so has strengthened,'' Fukuda told a meeting of his faction.

''I think this is an emergency situation. I don't know how it will develop ... but I want to seek your support,'' he said.

Fukuda, 71, was dubbed ''shadow foreign minister'' while serving as top government spokesman, a post he held for more than three years under former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

He has long stressed the need for good relations with Asian neighbours China and South Korea.

REUTERS SKB KP0836

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