Japan party set to choose new PM
Japan is set to elect a new Prime Minister. The outspoken former foreign minister Taro Aso is most likely to take over the reins from Yasuo Fukuda, who suddenly quit this month leaving a policy vacuum as the economy flirts with recession and risks further damage from turmoil on Wall Street.
The 68-year-old veteran former foreign minister will have the difficult task of reviving the world's second-biggest economy and his task becomes more challenging in the wake of US financial turmoil. He will have to confront challenges on the political front. His ruling Liberal Democratic Party is losing popularity and recently slumped low and is on the verge of losing power - an almost unthinkable prospect for most of the past 50 years.
Members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are preparing to vote for a new leader to replace outgoing Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
The winner will become the country's third prime minister in two years - and is expected to call a general election almost immediately.
There are five candidates in the race, but former Foreign Minister Taro Aso is the favourite to win.
The LDP has governed Japan almost continuously since 1955.
But the main opposition Democratic Party (DPJ) made big gains in recent elections and controls the upper house of parliament.
The political deadlock caused by the opposition's popularity eventually forced Mr Fukuda to resign after less than a year in the job.
He had become prime minister after his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, abruptly resigned citing health reasons.