Japan’s ruling party begins campaign to elect new leader

Tokyo, Sep 8 (efe-epa).- The ruling party of Japan on Tuesday began its internal election campaign to choose its new leader, a process that will last until Sep. 14 and which will produce the country’s new prime minister.

The process began after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Aug. 28 his intention to step down for health reasons, after almost eight years as head of the Japanese government.

The Liberal Democratic Party headquarters served as the stage for the formal reception ceremony of the LDP’s leadership candidates, among which the clear favorite is the current chief cabinet secretary and government spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga.

According to national broadcaster NHK, 71-year-old Suga, a close aide of Abe, promised to continue the outgoing prime minister’s policies, including containing the COVID-19 epidemic while maintaining economic activity.

Two other contenders also filed for the race.

The first was the former legislator and defense minister Shigeru Ishiba, 63, who aspires for the fourth time to lead the LDP, and the other candidate was former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, 63.

Ishiba, long seen as Abe’s rival, would improve living standards in rural areas by creating jobs and raising incomes, while Kishida pledged to promote economic policies prioritizing middle-income earners and to use his foreign minister experience to put the country’s technology and culture at the center of diplomacy, NHK said.

The registration of the three candidates were formalized in a ceremony at the LDP headquarters, with multiple bows at each step of the process and the presence of party leaders wearing protective masks.

According to the positions expressed in previous days by the different factions of the party, Suga will secure the highest number of the 535 votes that will be cast on Sep. 14 to elect the new leader, which will be announced the same day.

Suga, Ishiba and Kishida are expected to deliver their first speeches on Tuesday and participate in a joint press conference as part of the campaign, although rallies will not be held due to the coronavirus pandemic. EFE-EPA


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