Veteran politician Yasuo Fukuda has won control of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), making him certain to become the country's 58th prime minister when parliament reconvenes tomorrow.
The 71-year-old beat ex-foreign minister Taro Aso to replace Shinzo Abe, who has been in hospital with a mysterious illness since abruptly announcing his resignation nearly two weeks ago.
Mr Fukuda promised to rebuild public confidence in government, shattered after 12 months of scandal during his predecessor's rule. "We are facing an extremely difficult situation," he said yesterday. "I'd like to create a government that the public can believe in."
He won nearly two-thirds of the votes in Sunday's LDP presidential election, showing a clear swing away from the more hawkish policies of the Abe era. LDP domination of the more powerful lower house means Mr Fukuda will slip into the prime minister's chair unchallenged. Many of Mr Fukuda's colleagues hope the former chief government spokesman will lead the party back from the political brink following a July electoral mauling that saw it lose control of the upper house to the Democrats.