TOKYO: Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary SUGA Yoshihide is considering the possibility of entering a race to choose a successor to outgoing Prime Minister ABE Shinzo, informed sources said Saturday.
Suga looks certain to become a promising candidate if he runs in the race as senior officials at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have voiced support for him.
Abe, also LDP president, announced his resignation for health reasons Friday.
The LDP leadership is considering selecting the new party president at a meeting around Sept. 13 and holding a parliamentary vote to pick the next prime minister by Sept. 18.
Recommendations from at least 20 party lawmakers are necessary to run in an LDP presidential election.
Suga is viewed as the best person to appear in relief as he has been supporting Abe as chief cabinet secretary since he returned to power in December 2012. Suga also has a favorable relationship with Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso told an aide on Friday that Suga is the person best fit for the LDP presidency.
“The next LDP president would be Suga,” said a senior official of the LDP faction led by former General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita.
There is also speculation that LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai supports Suga, sources familiar with the situation said.
LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida and former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba have indicated their intention to run in the party presidential race.
Defense Minister Taro Kono told a virtual press conference in Guam that he will consider whether to enter the race with his fellow party members.
Former LDP Secretary-General Nobuteru Ishihara told reporters that he will not run this time.
Other possible candidates include LDP election strategy chief Hakubun Shimomura and former internal affairs minister Seiko Noda.