Japan begins election campaign to pick Abe’s successor

Japan’s ruling party on Tuesday kicked off official campaigning for its leadership race after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation due to health issues in late August.

In August, Abe was diagnosed with a recurrence of intestinal illness, called ulcerative colitis, after visiting a hospital twice.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s government spokesman, former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida filed their candidacies as was widely expected, vying to succeed Abe.

Abe will handover as premier as soon as his successor is chosen in mid-September.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will hold the intra-party race on Monday and an extraordinary parliamentary session will be convened on Sept. 16 to nominate the country’s new prime minister.

LDP’s new leader will almost certainly become the next prime minister since the party controls the powerful lower house.

Suga, 71, the right-hand man of Abe, promised to succeed the premier’s policies, including much-touted “Abenomics” economic policies.

Ishiba, 63, who took the LDP’s leading poets such as secretary-general and chairman of its policy research council, said, “I will dedicate all my strength to this race to create a new Japan.”

Kishida, 63, said, “I would like to offer a vision of how the LDP can be in turbulent times."

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