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World Race for Japan's new prime minister kicks off

06:20  17 september  2021
06:20  17 september  2021 Source:   afp.com

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The campaign to become Japan ' s next prime minister kicks off on Friday, with four candidates vying for leadership of the ruling party in an unusually close race . The candidates include two women hoping to lead a country that has never had a female prime minister , though both are considered long shots. The race follows Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's shock announcement last month that would not run for head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Whoever the party picks in a September 29 vote will become prime minister and contest a general election that has to be held by late November.

The race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off informally on Saturday, with several contenders announcing their plans to stand, a day after Japan ' s longest-serving leader announced his resignation. Abe said he was suffering a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, the condition that forced him to cut short his first term in office, but that he would stay on until his successor is decided. And the next prime minister will inherit an economy that had swung into recession even before the coronavirus crisis hit and may face further hits if additional waves of infection force business shutdowns again this winter.

The campaign to become Japan's next prime minister kicks off on Friday, with four candidates vying for leadership of the ruling party in an unusually close race.

a circuit board: Japan's ruling party will elect a new leader later this month who will become prime minister © Charly TRIBALLEAU Japan's ruling party will elect a new leader later this month who will become prime minister

The candidates include two women hoping to lead a country that has never had a female prime minister, though both are considered long shots.

The race follows Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's shock announcement last month that would not run for head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Whoever the party picks in a September 29 vote will become prime minister and contest a general election that has to be held by late November.

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TOKYO: The race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off informally on Saturday, with several contenders announcing their plans to stand, a day after Japan ' s longest-serving leader announced his resignation. Abe said he was suffering a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, the condition that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen on a large screen during a live press conference in Tokyo on August 28, 2020. - Abe announced on August 28, 2020 he will resign over health problems, in a bombshell development that kicks off a leadership contest in the world's third-largest economy.

The race to pick Japan ' s next prime minister kicked off with the front-runners showing more similarities than differences in their policy platforms. TOKYO--The race to pick Japan ' s next prime minister kicked off Saturday with ex-foreign minister and leading candidate Seiji Maehara warning against looking to near-term tax increases to fund reconstruction, while Banri Kaieda, his main rival, advocated a nationwide construction spree paid for by government bonds.

As the LDP is expected to retain power, its leader is likely to be the person leading the world's third largest economy in coming years, and will face challenges from dealing with China to tackling climate change.

While outspoken vaccine chief Taro Kono leads public opinion polls on who should be Japan's next leader, the result is far from clear-cut because most of the party's major factions are not backing a candidate.

"In this race, given that the factions aren't endorsing anyone officially, it's kind of a free-for-all," Tobias Harris, senior fellow for Asia at the Center for American Progress, told AFP.

"It's hard to say that there's really a true front-runner."


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TOKYO: The race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off informally on Saturday, with several contenders announcing their plans to stand, a day after Japan ' s longest-serving leader announced his resignation. Abe said he was suffering a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, the condition that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen on a large screen during a live press conference in Tokyo on August 28, 2020. - Abe announced on August 28, 2020 he will resign over health problems, in a bombshell development that kicks off a leadership contest in the world's third-largest economy.

The race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off informally on Saturday, with several contenders announcing their plans to stand, a day after Japan ' s longest-serving leader announced his resignation. Abe said he was suffering a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, the condition that forced him to cut short his first term in office, but that he would stay on until his successor is decided. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is Japan ' s longest-serving leader Photo: POOL / Franck ROBICHON.

Kono's main competition is expected to come from ex-foreign minister Fumio Kishida, who heads a large LDP faction that will back him in the race.

The two other candidates in the race are vying to become Japan's first female leader, but both divisive right-winger Sanae Takaichi and former gender equality minister Seiko Noda are believed to be long shots.

The voting on September 29 will be over two rounds, if needed, with 383 lawmakers and an equal number of rank-and-file members voting in the first instance.

But the close race makes it unlikely a candidate will secure a majority. In that case the top two move to a second round involving 383 lawmakers and one party representative from each of Japan's 47 regions.

The race is unusually hard to predict because factions that often vote as blocs are this time largely leaving members to vote as they choose.

EXPLAINER: Japanese ruling party race to determine next PM

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The race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off informally on Saturday, with several contenders announcing their plans to stand, a day after Japan ’ s longest-serving leader announced his resignation. Abe said he was suffering a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, the condition that forced him to cut short his first term in office, but that he would stay on until his successor is decided. Exactly how the process will unfold was still unclear, with local media reporting on Saturday that several options were being considered.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will pull out of a party leadership race in September, officials said, setting the stage for his replacement after just one year in office. Suga, who took over after Shinzo Abe resigned last September, citing ill health, has seen his support ratings sink to below 30% as the nation struggles with its worst wave of COVID-19 infections ahead of a general election this year. Japan ' s Nikkei average futures jumped 2% after the reports that Suga would not run in the contest for ruling party chief.

"Insiders are ultimately going to make or break the winner," Harris said, adding that Kono's popular support means that he "probably has the edge, but if he has a lead, it's a very vulnerable one".

The race was thrown wide open after Suga, whose approval ratings have tanked partly over his government's pandemic response, announced his resignation after just a year in the top job.

Suga took office in September 2020 after Japan's longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe resigned for health reasons.

Suga's term has been marred by worsening waves of Covid infections and repeated rounds of restrictions, with the Tokyo Olympics failing to boost his popularity.

His short term has led some to wonder if Japan could return to the "revolving door" of leaders seen before Abe began his second term in 2012.

Since World War II, only five politicians have hung onto the prime minister's office for five years or longer.

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