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Aso formally announces bid for Japan's ruling party presidency
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Japan's popular politician Taro Aso formally announced Friday that he will take part in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s presidential election to succeed outgoing party leader and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

At a press conference held at the LDP's headquarters in the morning, Aso, who is the LDP's secretary general, said he will target reviving the economy and create comfortable lives for citizens.

The 67-year-old politician, who used to be foreign minister in both Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe's Cabinets and known for his interest in cartoons, is set to become prime minister if elected party president since the LDP controls the majority in the more powerful lower house of the parliament.

Aso expressed his willingness to run in the race shortly after Fukuda's announcement of resignation Monday evening. He was defeated by Fukuda in the last race for the party presidency and premiership in September 2007.

The LDP has set the date of presidential election on Sept. 22. The campaigning is to officially starts Wednesday.

Aso is widely seen as the front-runner in the upcoming election. Former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano and Nobuteru Ishihara, former LDP policy chief, have also decided to run in the race.

(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2008)

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