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Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe will begin a series of visits across Japan next week to discuss measures to provide a second chance to people whose businesses or careers have failed, although the exercise is largely being as a precampaign ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election in September.

Abe, the favorite in opinion polls to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as LDP chief, on Wednesday defended the tour by stressing the need for him to “speak directly with those working hard to make a comeback” and to see with his own eyes the various challenges faced in different regions of the country.

“With the party presidency election scheduled, I guess whatever I do, people will think it’s related,” he said during a press conference as the top government spokesman.

Abe will first visit Iwate Prefecture — the home constituency of Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa — on July 27 with agriculture promotion measures as a focus of discussion.

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