Fourth in a series of six

While it has been the prime ministerial hopefuls garnering most of the attention lately, there are two behind-the-scenes players who have the power to shape Japan's political future: former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso. Between their ability to guarantee votes and shape perceptions inside the Liberal Democratic Party and out, these two party heavyweights can make the difference in who comes out on top in the coming weeks.

The influence the two men yield has already been demonstrated in the toppling of Yoshihide Suga. When the LDP announced the date for the presidential election on Aug. 26, the situation would have been entirely different if Abe and Aso had vociferously backed Suga. Instead, all that they did was quietly allude to their support based on the need for continuity through the Lower House election. The absence of enthusiastic endorsement from those two rattled other would-be backers which, in conjunction with Suga’s inability to calm the situation, led to a complete withdrawal of support from the party.