Fukuda wins Japan leadership race; to become PM

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TOKYO, Sep 23 (Reuters) Japan's ruling party today picked Yasuo Fukuda, an advocate of warmer ties with Tokyo's Asian neighbours, to succeed Shinzo Abe as prime minister in an effort to revive party fortunes and end a political vacuum.

Fukuda, 71, seen as an experienced moderate, defeated hawkish former foreign minister Taro Aso in the Liberal Democratic Party leadership election, ensuring he becomes prime minister because of the ruling camp's huge majority in parliament's lower house.

Abe, whose year in office was marked by scandals and a humiliating election defeat, stunned allies and foes by announcing his resignation on September 12, just days after staking his career on extending a Japanese naval mission in support of US-led military operations in Afghanistan.

REUTERS JK HS1158

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