The ruling Liberal Democratic Party made it official Tuesday. It will hold its presidential poll Sept. 20 to pick a successor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the LDP’s election board will accept candidates on Sept. 8.
The decision came in a meeting of senior executives, LDP officials said.
The winner of the election is certain to be the next prime minister because the ruling bloc — the LDP and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito — has a majority in the House of Representatives, and thus final say in the selection.
The new prime minister will then form a Cabinet.
Koizumi, who took office in April 2001, plans to step down when his term as LDP president expires in September.
Those seen likely to succeed him are Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki.
The LDP president serves a three-year term for up to two terms.
Candidates will make campaign speeches together around three times between Sept. 9 and 19.
The new party president will be chosen by votes from the party’s 403 lawmakers and 300 votes from its local chapters — three votes each from the party’s 47 prefectural branches, with the remaining 159 votes to be allocated in proportion to the number of party members and organizations backing the party at each chapter.
The candidate who wins a majority in primaries will become LDP president. If no contender wins a majority, a runoff will be held.
Kato backs Fukuda
SHIZUOKA – 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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