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Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe has widened his lead over former top government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda as the voters’ preferred candidate to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister, according to a Kyodo News survey.

Nearly half, or 48.1 percent, of those who responded to a nationwide telephone survey favored Abe, up 2.5 percentage points from a survey conducted last month. Fukuda lost 1.9 points and had a support rate of 22.4 percent. He now trails Abe by 25.7 points.

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