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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Taro Kono, head of Japan’s vaccination program and a member of parliament for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, attends a press conference as he announces his candidacy for the party’s presidential election in Tokyo, Japan on September 10, 2021. REUTERS/Issa

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Written by Eileen Lays

TOKYO (Reuters) – The candidates for Japan’s prime minister officially launched their campaign on Friday, with famed Vaccine Minister Taro Kono expected to be the number one contender to replace Yoshihide Suga.

The race for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) took an unexpected turn two weeks ago when Suga said he was stepping down https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-ruling-party-execs-meet-president-suga -Struggling- ahead of the election-09-03-2021, a heated battle began.

The winner of the September 29 elections will become prime minister by virtue of the party’s majority in the lower house of parliament.

The LDP’s image has been damaged by public perceptions that Suga got it wrong for his handling of COVID-19. One year into his tenure, party members are eager for a new face that will carry them to victory in the general election expected in two months.

The famous Kono https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/self-belief-strategy-japans-taro-kono-upends-race-next-premier-2021-09-13, whose biography https:/ /www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/five-facts-about-japan-prime-minister-hopeful-taro-kono-2021-09-10 Studded with posts including the foreign and defense portfolios, former foreign minister Fumio faces Kishida https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-vaccines-minister-kono-favored-next-pm-opinion-polls-2021-09-13, Sana Takechi https://www.reuters .com/world/asia-pacific/japan-lawmaker-takaichi-announce-run-party-leadership-replace-pm-suga-2021-09-08, who served as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Seiko Noda https://www. reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-noda-former-gender-equality-minister-joins-pm-race-2021-09-16, former Minister for Gender Equality.

Unlike last year’s race, members of the Liberal Democratic Party from the grassroots will join lawmakers in casting votes.

The media-educated, US-educated Kono, who at 58 is on the younger side for the post of Japanese Prime Minister, is widely seen as the frontrunner due to his popularity among the public, who regularly choose him as Their favorite https://www.reuters. com / world / asia-pacific / japan-vaccines-minister-kono tops-opinion-next-suga-2021-09-12 for prime minister. Investors https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-investors-raise-bets-kono-leadership-race-2021-09-13 recently took over Kono at the expense of Kishida.

His chances were boosted this week when LDP heavyweight Shigeru Ishiba https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-ldps-ishiba-formally-announce-support-pm-contender-kono-2021-09 -15 who is popular with the party ranks and was considering his candidacy, threw his support for Kono.

But Kono is notorious for being a dissident, and may favor older members of the faction-torn LDP, Kishida, 64, who hails from a dovish faction of the party, given perceptions that he might be better than Kono at consensus-building. .

Takechi, 60, who aspires to become Japan’s first female prime minister, is a disciple of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, and a member of the more conservative wing of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Noda, 60, who joined the race on Thursday after winning the support of 20 MPs needed to throw her hat in the track, is seen as a distant opportunity. But it could have a major impact on the race by making it difficult for a single candidate to win a majority in the first round.

On economic policy https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/key-economic-policy-stances-japans-next-pm-candidates-2021-09-10, as Japan struggles to recover from successive waves of the virus Corona, Kono wants any extra stimulus https://www.reuters.com/article/japan-politics/update-2-japan-pm-contender-kono-wants-stimulus-to-focus-on-energy-5g-idUKL1N2QI04A To prioritize renewable energy and expand 5G networks, while Kishida says Japan should strive for a new form of capitalism to reduce income inequality https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/former-japanese-minister-sanae -takaichi-seek-lead-open-prospect -2021-09-08.

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