The abrupt departure of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has triggered a race within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for the top job, with no single contender having a clear road to the top post.

Whoever succeeds Abe, who just recently broke the record for longest continually serving prime minister, will have their work cut out as the coronavirus pandemic has deepened the recession in the world's third-largest economy and forced the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed.

Frontrunners include LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, both of whom indicated their desire to run shortly after Abe announced Friday his intent to step down in an at times emotional press conference. In the meantime, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, also seen as a top contender, has avoided openly voicing any ambitions he may be harboring.