TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, one of major contenders for next premier, has indicated he would stand in the ruling LDP leadership election, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday (Aug 31).
Mr Suga said he would consider running in the election after 14 LDP lawmakers visited his parliamentary office and asked him to join the race, the source said.
Mr Suga declined to comment earlier the day when asked about the LDP leadership race at his regular news conference as the government’s top spokesman.
The Liberal Democratic Party plans to hold a leadership vote on Sept 14 to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is stepping down due to ill health, local media reported on Monday.
The new party leader will become the country’s next prime minister due to the party’s parliamentary majority, with four possible candidates vying for the position. Mr Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, told US President Donald Trump earlier on Monday that the strengthening of their two nations’ alliance would be maintained even after he leaves office, a Japanese government spokesman said.
But Mr Abe’s successor will face a daunting list of economic, diplomatic and security issues, ranging from a stagnant economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic to China-US tensions.
In the race to succeed Mr Abe as the next prime minister, former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba is the most popular choice among the public, media opinion polls showed. But Mr Ishiba, a vocal Abe critic, could face an uphill battle if he does declare his candidacy.
Mr Ishiba has about 34 per cent of the public’s support, more than double the 14 per cent for Mr Suga, the second-most popular choice, a weekend Kyodo News survey showed.
A Nikkei/TV Tokyo poll showed Mr Ishiba with 28 per cent support, followed by current Defence Minister Taro Kono with 15 per cent.
Mr Suga came in fourth place with 11 per cent, the poll showed. The surveys highlight a split between public opinion and internal LDP politics.
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