Yoshihide Suga to run in LDP leadership race to replace Abe

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epa06122307 Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announces newly appointed cabinet ministers at prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 03 August 2017. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet on 03 August in an effort to improve faltering approval ratings. EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

TOKYO:____After two days of speculation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has decided to enter the Liberal Democratic Party leadership race, sources said Sunday.

Suga has conveyed his intention to run to Toshihiro Nikai, the LDP’s secretary-general and a key figure in deciding how the party election will be held, the sources said.

As a matter of practice, the LDP always selects its party president to be the prime minister.

Suga’s decision comes after Prime Minister Shizo Abe on Friday announced his intention to step down, citing his poor health. Speculation has been rife whether Suga, who supported Abe as his right-hand man for his nearly eight-year tenure, will run in the LDP leadership race, which will likely be held by mid-September.

Along with Suga, key contenders in the race are LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, both of whom indicated their desire to run shortly after Abe announced his plan to resign on Friday.

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