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Three candidates running to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as head of the Liberal Democratic Party appeared in their first public faceoff Tuesday, each casting themselves as best qualified to guide the country through the rest of the novel coronavirus pandemic and to address its sluggish economy.

Gathered at LDP headquarters in Tokyo for the event, which was held the same day notice of the forthcoming party election was formally issued, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba and LDP policy council chairman Fumio Kishida each participated in a speech and a news conference.

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