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The government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, the constitutionality of lockdowns and the challenge the pandemic has posed for the medical system were central themes at a debate Saturday between candidates vying to lead the Liberal Democratic Party and become Japan’s next prime minister.

Taro Kono, regulatory reform minister and the leader of Japan’s vaccine rollout, and Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister, are considered the front-runners for the Sept. 29 vote. A poll of LDP party members released Saturday by Kyodo News showed Kono now enjoys a strong lead over his other three rivals, with 48.6% of respondents saying he’d be the right pick for party president. Kishida finished second in the poll, with support from 18.5% of the members polled.

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