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A self-effacing former banker, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida isn’t known for courting publicity in a way that comes naturally to most politicians.

So when he appeared this month with a comedian clad in clashing animal prints to promote a United Nations program, media outlets splashed the photos across newspapers and websites. The display also added to speculation that the normally low-key Kishida might be gearing up for a run to replace his increasingly unpopular boss, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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