Former foreign minister Taro Aso has been elected as head of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democrat party, and may go to the polls as early as October to cement his hold on power.
Before then he is certain to be elected prime minister by parliament on Wednesday, seeing off his LDP rivals including Yuriko Koike, the former defence minister who had hoped to become Japan’s first female leader.
She finished a weak third in the contest to Ato, the grandson of a former prime minister and the poll’s favourite ahead of the vote.
He says he wants tax cuts and a boost in public spending to revive the economy, but also has to revive his party. The LDP has ruled Japan more or less continuously since the second world war, but an election must be held by next year and it is dismally low in the polls.
It is thought Aso will use key cabinet appointments on Wednesday to try and unite the divided LDP and get it battle-ready for the election.