September 25, 2007 / 5:13 AM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX-Fukuda wins parliamentary backing as prime minister

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Yasuo Fukuda won the key parliamentary vote to be the next prime minister on Tuesday, succeeding Shinzo Abe who resigned abruptly on September 12.

He won a majority of votes in parliament’s lower house, ensuring he will be formally appointed to the post later in the day.

Following are some facts about Fukuda.

* Almost two decades older than Abe, the bespectacled Fukuda, 71, is Japan’s oldest leader since Kiichi Miyazawa took office at the age of 72 in 1991. The son of former prime minister Takeo Fukuda, he is viewed as a moderate conservative who will take a consensual approach to politics.

* Fukuda has said he will stay away from Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni war shrine, seen by many in Asia as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Fukuda favours building a secular war memorial, but he said during his campaign to become ruling party leader that the time was not yet right.

* Fukuda, who served in the pivotal post of chief cabinet secretary under Abe’s predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, has said he would continue economic reforms initiated under Koizumi but pay more heed to social inequities, including rural-urban gaps.

* He is no stranger to the kind of gaffes that have cut short a number of cabinet ministers’ tenures in the past few months. In 2002, he told reporters that Japan, the only country to suffer atomic bombings, might review its ban on nuclear arms.

In 2003, he sparked criticism for leaked comments in an off-the-record briefing suggesting that women who dressed provocatively were asking to be raped.

* Known for his testy manner, Fukuda abruptly stepped down as chief cabinet secretary in 2004 after admitting to skipping some payments into the public pension scheme. Some analysts attributed his departure to differences with then Prime Minister Koizumi over foreign policy.

* After graduating from Tokyo’s prestigious Waseda University with an economics degree, Fukuda worked at a Japanese oil company for 17 years, two of which he spent in the United States.

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