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Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has cited four senior lawmakers as candidates to succeed current prime minister and Liberal Democratic Party President Yoshihide Suga in the future.

The four named by Abe in an interview with monthly magazine Gekkan Hanada for its July edition, which went on sale Wednesday, are Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, Hakubun Shimomura, chairman of the ruling LDP’s Policy Research Council, and Fumio Kishida, former chairman of the LDP policy panel.

In the interview, Abe reiterated his support for Suga’s re-election as LDP president in a poll to be held in line with the expiration of his current term as leader of the party at the end of September.

The Suga administration “has been making appropriate decisions” regarding the fight against the novel coronavirus, Abe said, rebutting criticism that the government has been slow in responding to the pandemic.

When the upcoming LDP presidential election is held, only about a year would have passed since Suga took office, Abe said. Noting that there are both good and bad times, Abe said that “we all should work strenuously together to support” the Suga administration.

Asked about appropriate candidates to succeed Suga in the future, Abe named Motegi, Kato, Shimomura and Kishida, all LDP lawmakers in the House of Representatives. The LDP is “rich in talent,” Abe said.

Abe dismissed rumors that he will seek a third tenure as prime minister, saying, “I’m not considering it at all, because there are many talented people (in the party).”

Suga became prime minister in September last year, succeeding Abe, who resigned due to a health issue after holding the post for nearly eight years since late December 2012. Previously, Abe served as prime minister between September 2006 and September 2007.

On speculation that Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike may call for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer due to the continuing coronavirus crisis, Abe said, “She, I think, is exploring every possibility as she is very shrewd.

“But I’m sure that (Koike) also has a strong sense of responsibility, so I want her to show her determination to overcome the difficulties and hold the Tokyo Games.”

The Summer Olympics and Paralympics, originally scheduled for 2020, were postponed to this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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