(Bloomberg) -- Former Japanese communications minister Seiko Noda said she plans to run to in a vote this month to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, as she seeks to become the country’s first female premier.
Noda declared her candidacy Thursday in a Sept. 29 leadership election for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The winner of that race is virtually assured of becoming prime minister due to the party’s dominance in parliament.
She becomes the fourth declared candidate, and the second woman to toss her hat in the ring for the ruling party vote after former Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi. Until this election, only one woman had formally run for the LDP’s presidency in its nearly 66-year history.
Noda told reporters she had secured the backing of the 20 lawmakers needed to be officially nominated as a candidate, adding she is running to help women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities.
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The two other candidates are vaccine czar Taro Kono, who is now serving as the minister for administrative reform, and Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister. The official campaign begins Friday, when Noda is expected to lay out her policy priorities during speeches by the candidates.
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Public opinion polls show Kono, who has also served as foreign minister and defense minister, is the most popular option. While the public doesn’t get a say in the leadership vote, broad-based approval will be key as the new premier must face a general election just weeks after being appointed.
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Like Kishida and Takaichi, Kono says he supports more emergency fiscal spending to help Japan’s flagging recovery, but he’s sounded more cautious about the size of the package than the others.
The election follows Suga’s decision not to run amid sagging public support and mounting criticism over his management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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