In the race to succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Sanae Takaichi is fast emerging as a contender as she takes aim at becoming Japan’s first female prime minister.

The former internal affairs and communications minister has made no secret of her desire to run in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership election slated for later this month. Now, with reports swirling that LDP heavyweight and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to throw his influential support behind her, the prospect of her being able to secure the endorsement of at least 20 LDP parliamentarians — a prerequisite for officially entering the race — suddenly appears within reach.

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