Japan ruling party agrees to slimmed-down version of leadership vote

TOKYO (REUTERS) – The general council of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) decided unanimously on Tuesday (Sept 1) that the next leader would be chosen in a simplified rather than full-scale format in the interest of speed, a senior party executive said.

A full-scale leadership race would take two months to prepare and would affect budget and coronavirus-related policy-making, LDP General Council Chairman Shunichi Suzuki told reporters in a briefing after the general council meeting.

The party’s leader will almost certainly become prime minister because of its majority in the lower house of parliament. The new leader will replace Shinzo Abe, who abruptly announced on Friday he was stepping down for health reasons.

Meanwhile, top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, has won the backing of the largest faction of LDP to become its next leader, public broadcaster NHK reported on Tuesday, making him a strong front-runner to become the next premier.

Mr Suga has not publicly announced his candidacy for leader of LDP but has indicated privately that he intends to run, a source told Reuters.

Media reported he would formally announce his intention to run on Wednesday.

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