Contest starts to find Japan Prime Minister Abe's Successortext_fields
Tokyo: Official campaigning for presidential election of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party began on Tuesday, with outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's right-hand man vowing to carry on Abe's policies and two former ministers calling for change as they vie to replace him.
The winner will become Japan's next prime minister, with the dominant majority of the ruling party in parliament. The three men who filed their candidacies are Yoshihide Suga, 71, who has been Chief Cabinet Secretary for nearly eight years, Shigeru Ishiba, 63, a former defense minister and vocal critic of Abe, and Fumio Kishida, 63, a former foreign minister and currently the LDP's policy chief, reported Japan Today.
Abe declared recently that he was stepping down due to health concerns before his term as LDP president ends in September next year. The leadership election will be held next Monday, and the new prime minister will be sworn-in at an extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Sept 16.
Suga, who is widely seen as the front-runner in the race, reiterated his stance to carry on Abe's policies as someone who has long supported the administration as the top government spokesman.
"I will carry on the works of Prime Minister Abe and hope to move them forward further," said Suga.
He called for creating a digital agency as the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need to facilitate online medical examinations and administrative procedures as well as education using advanced online technology.
While Suga has secured the backing of the majority of 394 LDP lawmakers who will vote, the focus of the election is also on how many votes Ishiba and Kishida can attract as the election serves as a bellwether for the next presidential election to be held by the end of September next year.
Ishiba is seeking a departure from Abe's policies, saying he wants to reset Japan and "rewrite its blueprint." The country cannot survive the next era without it, Ishiba said.
He said he will decentralize the Tokyo-centric economy and create a disaster management agency, saying the disaster-prone country needs a unified response system.
"I have realized the significance of the ability to listen to the people in politics," said Kishida.
Kishida praised Abe's achievements in the economic and diplomatic fronts but called for addressing the income gap in Japan, pledging to raise the minimum wage and reduce education costs.