Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi is far ahead of the other two rival candidates in the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race, but the possibility of an upset lingers since many party members remain uncommitted, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

Based on a survey of LDP lawmakers in both chambers of the Diet and other pertinent data, Kyodo said Obuchi has already secured nearly 200 votes and is nearing the 207-vote majority needed to win Friday’s election.

Supporters of the other candidates — Health and Welfare Minister Junichiro Koizumi and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama — are meanwhile trying desperately to keep the front-runner from winning a majority so that a runoff will ensue between the top two vote-getters. If the second- and third-place candidates can cooperate in a runoff, they could pull off an upset.

The LDP’s 263 Lower House members and 103 Upper House members, including the 45 who won seats July 12, plus one representative from each of the party’s 47 prefectural chapters are eligible to vote in the poll, scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.

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