Former Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Taku Yamasaki said Monday he will not run in the ruling party’s Sept. 20 presidential election, saying he wants to keep his “dignity this time.”

Yamasaki, a veteran House of Representatives member from Fukuoka, leads a 35-member faction, but many of its younger and midlevel members are backing Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe as the successor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Veteran faction members are also said to be moving to back the leading candidate.

“I can’t run for the race unless the timing, the situation and the support of the people all come together,” Yamasaki said on a TV station in Fukuoka. “I lack all of these this time and I will refrain from running.”

Yamasaki is expected to make the decision official during a faction meeting Thursday. Faction members are likely to cast their votes freely in the upcoming election.

The race is now almost certain to be a three-way contest between Abe, Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki and Foreign Minister Taro Aso.

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