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Aso, Taro

Taro Aso (tä´rō ä´sō), 1940–, Japanese politician, prime minister of Japan (2008–9). Grandson of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and son of a successful industrialist, he attended Gakushuin Univ. (grad. 1963), Stanford, and the Univ. of London. He subsequently joined the family cement business, leaving it in 1979 after his election to the Diet's lower house. A conservative, a nationalist, and a member of the Liberal Democratic party (LDP), Aso rose in the party ranks, held various governmental offices, and served (2005–7) as foreign minister under Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe. In 2008, after Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda resigned, he became leader of the LDP and prime minister; Aso was the first Roman Catholic to hold the office. He advocated increased public spending and tax cuts to aid Japan's faltering economy as well as close ties with the United States and an assertive foreign policy, but he was hurt politically by a series of policy stumbles and an economic recession. In 2009 the LDP suffered landslide losses in the Diet, and Aso resigned. He was named finance minister and deputy prime minister in Abe's second government in 2012.

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