Japanese lawmakers commence vote for next PM

Japanese lawmakers commence vote for next PM

by Amani Nilar 29-09-2021 | 11:29 AM

(News 1st): Lawmakers in Japan's ruling party began voting for the next prime minister today (29), ahead of a General Election due in weeks.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership vote seems set to be a showdown between popular vaccine minister Taro Kono and consensus builder Fumio Kishida.

Kono, 58, a U.S.-educated former defense and foreign minister is driven by public popularity, while ex-foreign minister Fumio Kishida, 64, is saddled with a bland image but has a stronger support base from party members in Parliament.

Also running for the  post are former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi, 60, an ultra-conservative; and Seiko Noda, 61, from the party's  liberal wing.

Prime Minister Suga surprisingly announced he would step down after only a year as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader at Wednesday's vote.

With masks on, the LDP Parliamentary members, including Yoshide Suga and former prime minister Shinzo Abe, gathered in the ballroom of a Tokyo hotel to cast their votes from 1:00 p.m. Japan time. Their ballot box was closed about 30 minutes after they voted in lines.

Rank-and-file party members have been voting for several days. Results from all ballots are scheduled to be announced at 2:20 p.m.

If any candidate gets a clear majority, though projections show it is unlikely, that person will become the winner.

If not, the top two candidates in the first round will immediately go into a run-off vote. The results of the second round of voting are expected around 3:40 p.m. today (29).