(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to announce the lifting of a state of emergency over the virus, one of his last actions as leader, with the ruling party set to pick his successor on Wednesday.
While the emergency is to be lifted nationwide on Sept. 30, local authorities in some areas are expected to maintain some restrictions on bars and restaurants. The four lawmakers seeking to replace Suga as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party have expressed a wide range of opinions on how to deal with the virus in future.
Sanae Takaichi and Taro Kono have spoken of the need for legislative change to allow mandatory lockdowns, which have not so far been imposed in Japan. Fumio Kishida also favors stronger restrictions on the movement of people, while Jiji Press reported that Seiko Noda, who is trailing in the polls, said no such clampdowns are needed. All the candidates have called for the reintroduction of the so-called “Go To” travel subsidies used to support the tourism industry earlier in the pandemic, Jiji said.
Parliament is set to have an extraordinary session on Oct. 4 where the LDP will use its majority to elect its leader as the next prime minister.
One day until the Sept. 29 vote: LDP voting among rank-and-file members ends Tuesday, and lawmakers vote in person Wednesday -- with the two groups each having 382 votes. If a candidate does not win a majority of the 764 votes, there will be a runoff between the top two vote-getters, in which almost all the votes are allocated to lawmakers.
Lawmaker voting begins at 13:00, with the initial tally to be announced about 14:20. Runoff voting, if required, would follow immediately with the results of that round expected about 15:40.
- Fumio Kishida, former foreign minister and leader of a faction
- Sanae Takaichi, former internal affairs minister trying to become the first female premier
- Taro Kono, vaccine czar who has served as foreign and defense minister
- Seiko Noda, another former internal affairs minister also trying to become the first female premier
Kono and Kishida are seen as the top two candidates, followed by Takaichi and Noda. Although the public doesn’t get a say in the party’s election, voters will make their voices heard in a national election that must be held by the end of November.
Key stories and developments:
- Third Covid-Era Prime Minister to Face Tough Test in Japan
- Japan Takes Step Toward First Female Premier as Two Women Run
- Japan Premier Hopeful Charts Collision Course With China
- Japan Set to End Virus Emergency This Week as Cases Fall
- Next-Generation Japan Lawmakers Cheer ‘Chaotic’ Premier Fight
- BOJ’s Kuroda Reaffirms Policy Mix Need Ahead of Leadership Vote
- North Korea Defies Missile Ban With Launch Ahead of UN Speech
- Japan Defense Minister Kishi Cancels Duties on Health, Jiji Says
- Majority Unlikely in First Round of Japan LDP Election, NHK Says
- All four Japan PM hopefuls welcome Taiwan’s bid to join TPP
A poll from the Asahi newspaper published Sunday night found about 110 of the LDP’s 382 lawmakers said they would support Kishida, with 110 for Kono and 80 for Takaichi, while Noda lagged on 20. A separate poll by Kyodo News of party members and supporters conducted Sept. 25-26 found 47% favored Kono as leader, compared with 22% for Kishida, 16.2% for Takaichi and 3% for Noda.
Kishida has his own 46-member faction and can count on it voting as a bloc for him. The biggest faction, which includes former Prime Minister Abe, is allowing its nearly 100 members to vote for the candidate of their choice, while Abe has thrown his support behind Takaichi. Kono is a member of the Aso faction, which is set to offer some backing. The Ishiba faction, with 17 members, and the Ishihara faction with 10, are leaning to Kono.
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