Campaign To Succeed PM Abe As Party Leader Begins In Japan

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Japan’s ruling party on Tuesday kicked off official campaigning for its leadership race after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation due to health issues in late August amid a historic recession and a resurgence of the coronavirus.

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Japan’s government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida filed their candidacies as was widely expected, vying to succeed Abe.

Abe will quit his job as premier as soon as his successor is chosen in mid-September.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will hold the intra-party race on Monday and an extraordinary parliamentary session will be convened on Sept. 16 to nominate the country’s new prime minister.

The LDP’s new leader will almost certainly become the next prime minister, since the party controls the powerful lower house.

Suga, 71, the right-hand man of Abe, promised to succeed the premier’s policies, including much-touted “Abenomics” economic policies.

Ishiba, 63, who took the LDP’s leading posts such as secretary general and chairman of its policy research council, said, “I will dedicate all my strength to this race to create a new Japan.”

Kishida, 63, said, “I would like to offer a vision of how the LDP can be in turbulent times.”

In August, Abe was diagnosed with a recurrence of an intestinal illness, called ulcerative colitis, after visiting a hospital twice.

In July 2007, the disease forced Abe to abruptly quit as prime minister, only one year into the job.

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