Kono, Japan’s vaccines minister, leads an opinion poll on who should succeed Suga.

Taro Kono, Japan’s vaccines minister, led a public opinion poll on who should succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Kono received 27% support in a poll conducted by the Nikkei newspaper and TV Tokyo to determine who would be the “ideal person” to lead the party and become the future Prime Minister.

On Saturday, the results of the September 9-11 survey were announced.

Former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba was next with 17%, and ex-policy chief Fumio Kishida was third with 14%. Former Interior Minister Sanae Takaichi was fifth with 7%.

Kono, who also serves as minister of administrative reform, announced his candidacy on Friday, the third to make his intention official after Kishida and Takaichi. read more

Ishiba may not run for the party’s leadership and instead will likely support another candidate, the Jiji news service said Saturday, citing sources close to him.

Suga, in a surprise move, said on Sept. 3 he would step down, marking an end to a one-year tenure that was marred by plunging public support and dissatisfaction with his coronavirus response.

That set the stage for a Sept. 29 leadership vote among grassroots LDP members and lawmakers. The winner is virtually assured the premiership because the LDP has a majority in parliament’s lower house.

Following the LDP leadership vote, Japan will likely hold a general election in the first half of November, Kyodo reported citing ruling party lawmakers.

The Nikkei/TV Tokyo poll follows earlier ones showing strong public support for Kono, 58, to succeed Suga.

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