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Although former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida won the Liberal Democratic Party leadership contest Wednesday, perhaps the ultimate winner was Shinzo Abe.

The most urgent priority for Abe, who held the position for almost eight years, was deflating Taro Kono’s momentum as a contender — even though the vaccine czar enjoys widespread support among rank-and-file LDP members as well as the public. Kono is disdained by conservative lawmakers close to the former prime minister for his liberal stances on social issues and nuclear energy, along with his outspokenness.

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