TOKYO, Sept 13 — Japan’s minister in charge of vaccines, Taro Kono, has emerged as the favoured candidate in weekend opinion polls on whom should succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
The winner of the LDP leadership election set for September 29 is all but assured to be prime minister.
In the election, only LDP lawmakers and its grass-roots members will cast their votes, but candidates’ popularity among the general public counts as the winner of the race will lead the party to a general election later this year.
In a survey conducted by the Asahi daily on Saturday and Sunday, 33 per cent of those polled said Kono was most suitable as the next LDP leader, followed by former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba’s 16 per cent and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida’s 14 per cent.
In a surprise announcement, Suga said earlier this month he would step down as prime minister, ending a one-year term that has seen his support crumble as coronavirus cases surged.
The Asahi survey showed that 58 per cent of those polled believe that the next LDP leader should not take over the policies of Suga and Shinzo Abe, who served as prime minister before Suga.
In a similar poll by the Nikkei business daily, 27 per cent of those surveyed chose Kono as most suitable for the post of the ruling party chief, ahead of Ishiba’s 17 per cent and Kishida’s 14 per cent.
Kono and Kishida have declared their candidacy for the top party post, while Ishiba has not made public his intention. — Reuters