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Taro Kono, Japan’s vaccine czar, is fast-emerging as the public’s top choice to replace outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, according to two polls — an edge that could have an outsized impact on the ruling party’s leadership vote ahead of a looming general election.

Kono, who also serves concurrently as administrative reform minister, was the top pick in two public opinion polls, with 23% of respondents in a survey released Monday by the Yomiuri Shimbun naming him as the most suitable person to take over from Suga.

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