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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was almost certain to be elected new Liberal Democratic Party president Monday to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Suga, 71, has secured far over half of the 535 votes to be cast in the ruling party’s leadership poll, enjoying a commanding lead over his two rivals, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, 63, and LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, 63.

Thanks to support from five major factions, Suga is believed to have secured more than 70 percent of the 394 votes from party lawmakers.

Of the remaining 141 votes, allocated to the party’s 47 prefectural chapters, Suga appears to have secured at least 48 votes, against 27 expected for Ishiba and nine for Kishida.

Prefectural chapters, each of which has three votes, conducted preliminary voting or surveys to reflect the opinions of local rank-and-file LDP members in the chapters’ voting action in the presidential poll.

The Tokyo and Hokkaido chapters decided to cast all three ballots for Suga, while the Aomori, Ishikawa, Fukui and Okayama chapters will each allocate two votes to him.

Kishida secured all three votes in his home prefecture of Hiroshima, while the Tottori chapter’s three votes are set to go to Ishiba, whose home turf is Tottori.

The Fukushima, Kagawa, Nagasaki and Kumamoto chapters will cast one ballot for each candidate.

In many other prefectures, the results of their preliminaries and surveys were to become available Monday.

The new LDP president is almost certain to become the next prime minister because the party holds a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives, the all-important lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament.

On Monday, voting in the LDP race was set to start at 2 p.m. The Diet is seen electing the winner as new prime minister Wednesday, when an extraordinary parliamentary session will begin.

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