• The Financial District


The abrupt departure of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has triggered a race within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for the top job, with no single contender having a clear road to the premiership, Ryotaro Nakamaru reported for Kyodo news agency late on August 29, 2020.

Whoever succeeds Abe, the country's longest-serving prime minister, will have their work cut out for him as the coronavirus pandemic has plunged the world's third-largest economy into recession and forced the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed.

Frontrunners include LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, both of whom indicated their desire to run shortly after Abe announced Friday his intent to step down in an at times emotional press conference. Meanwhile Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, also seen as a top contender, has avoided openly voicing any ambitions he may be harboring.

Abe himself declined to name his preference for the next LDP leader and therefore prime minister, simply calling on his party to make its choice as soon as possible. LDP leaders are chosen by election, with hopefuls first being required to gather 20 nominations from among the party's Diet members to run. After at least 12 days of campaigning, the election is held and -- usually -- whoever gets the majority of the 788 votes up for grabs wins. Diet members hold 394 of the votes and rank-and-file members account for the other 394.

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