Tokyo: Official campaigning for the top post of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) began on Tuesday, with three candidates in the fray to replace outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe is stepping down due to a recurrent health issue that had also abruptly ended his first tenure as Prime Minister in 2007, reports Xinhua news agency.
The candidates are Chief Cabinet Secretary and government spokesman Yoshihide Suga (71), former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba (63), and LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida (63).
While the leadership election will be held on September 14, the new Prime Minister will be announced at an extraordinary Diet (Parliament) session two days later.
The winner of the election is almost certain to become the next Prime Minister owing the LDP’s dominance in both chambers of Japan’s bicameral Parliament.
Suga, who has the backing of the majority of LDP lawmakers, has promised to continue with Abe’s economic policies and approach to tackling the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Kishida has said he wants to focus on re-addressing earning imbalances in society and the need to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 while balancing economic issues.
Ishiba wants to create more jobs and increase living standards in rural areas by raising incomes.
The party decided to hold a scaled-down version of the leadership election so that Abe’s successor could be selected quickly, without creating a vacuum or causing distraction from the government’s efforts to combat the pandemic.
In the scaled-down vote, 394 Diet members will cast ballots and a total of 141 votes will be cast by three delegates each from the country’s 47 prefectural chapters.
Due to the pandemic, the candidates will be making their campaign pledges and outlining their policies online and during television appearances.