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Japan's Aso steps down as head of ruling party

world Updated: Aug 31, 2009 16:59 IST

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso says he will quit his position as head of the country's ruling party.

Aso apologised on Monday for his party's major losses in national elections. The vote saw the ruling Liberal Democratic Party lose its majority in the powerful lower house of parliament.

The opposing Democratic Party of Japan claimed a majority of seats, the first time in postwar history that a single opposition party has gained a majority.

The party with a majority of seats in the lower house chooses the prime minister.

Yukio Hatoyama, the head of the Democrats, is a near certainty to become Japan's next prime minister and replace Aso.