25 Sep 2008

New PM confirmed in Japan

8:45 am on 25 September 2008

Japan's parliament has confirmed flamboyant conservative Taro Aso as the country's new prime minister.

But reflecting the deep division facing Mr Aso, the lower house was forced to overrule an alternative choice of an opposition figure by the upper house.

A stable of well-established right-wing politicians have emerged as the likely members of Mr Aso's new cabinet.

Analysts suggest Mr Aso was likely to call a snap election in a bid to shore up his political authority.

The Liberal Democratic Party has dominated Japanese politics for more than 50 years, but is now facing an ascendant opposition.

His predecessor, Yasuo Fukuda, resigned in early September after less than a year, frustrated by the ability of the upper house of parliament, which is controlled by the opposition, to stymie his legislative plans.

In addition Japan is facing stormy economic conditions.

Mr Aso was able to benefit from the LDP's two-thirds majority in the lower house of the Diet when his bid for the prime minister's post came up for approval.

He was approved by the lower house, but the upper house supported the head of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa, forcing the lower house to override it in a third vote.