The Citizen (KZN)

Suga likely to replace Abe

- Tokyo

– Japan’s ruling party yesterday kicked off the race to pick Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s successor, with his powerful right-hand man Yoshihide Suga commanding an all-but-insurmount­able lead.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, the 71-year-old son of a strawberry farmer, has already secured the support of major factions in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ahead of its leadership vote on Monday.

But he isn’t running unchalleng­ed, with a popular former defence minister and the party’s policy chief standing against him.

Thanks to the LDP’s solid legislativ­e majority, the race’s winner is certain to win a parliament­ary vote on 16 September and be named the country’s next prime minister.

The LDP race began after Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, abruptly announced in late August that he would resign for health reasons.

There is now speculatio­n that the next prime minister may quickly call a snap election to shore up public support.

Representa­tives for Suga and his rivals – former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba and party policy chief Fumio Kishida – formally registered their candidacie­s yesterday morning. – AFP

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