Administrative Reform Minister Taro Kono, who also oversees the country's COVID-19 vaccination program, is the top pick to succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who will resign later this month, according to the results of a Kyodo News poll released Sunday.

Kono, known as an outspoken lawmaker who is savvy with social media, won the support of 31.9% of respondents in the nationwide telephone survey conducted on Saturday and Sunday. Kono placed ahead of former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, who came in second with 26.6%, and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, at 18.8%.

The trio are among possible contenders in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Sept. 29 presidential election, which will effectively pick the next prime minister.