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September 2, 2008

Japananese premier resigns to avoid 'political vacuum'
Japan's unpopular prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, announced his resignation Monday after less than a year in office, the Associated Press reported.

Fukuda, in a hastily arranged news conference Monday evening, said he was stepping down to avoid a "political vacuum" at the head of the world's second-largest economy.

"My decision is based on what I thought the future political situation ought to be," Fukuda said.

The 72-year-old has suffered from chronically low support ratings as he presided over a parliament split between the ruling party and the opposition.

The move extends Japan's stretch of political instability of recent years. Fukuda's predecessor, Shinzo Abe, resigned last September after barely a year in office.

Fukuda did not specify when the resignation would take effect, but presumably he will stay in office until the ruling Liberal Democratic Party can select a new leader to put before parliament for a vote.

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