Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will be one of key players in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's coming leadership race as a candidate backed by him could draw broad support from nonmainstream members of the party.

Suga, who has distanced himself from current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, hopes to back a figure that can turn around the party from its woes linked to a political funds scandal, people familiar with his thinking said. Kishida's current term as LDP president expires in September.

In a speech to a meeting of the LDP chapter in Kagoshima Prefecture on Saturday, Suga recalled his 2020 party leadership bid while not commenting on the next race.