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Whoever succeeds Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should be highly popular with voters, Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Hidenao Nakagawa argued Friday, sparking speculation that he would back Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe in the September LDP presidential election.

In a speech at the Japan Press Club, Nakagawa said Koizumi’s successor should enjoy as high as 50 percent public support in media polls, the level above which Koizumi has stayed throughout most of the period since he took power in April 2001.

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