• Kyodo

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Koichi Kato, a former secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, expressed hope Monday that former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda runs in the LDP presidential election in September.

“I think Fukuda’s role is very big,” Kato said in a speech in Shizuoka, touching on the LDP presidential election to pick Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s successor.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe is the front-runner, according to various media polls.

But Kato, a former Foreign Ministry bureaucrat, said those planning to run should declare their candidacies at an early date and challenge the hawkish Abe.

He also said the race should focus on diplomacy in Asia and the widening gap in people’s livelihoods.

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