The ruling Liberal Democratic Party will hold its presidential election next month. Under Japan's parliamentary Cabinet system, the head of the LDP — which now has a majority of seats in both chambers of the Diet — is assured of being elected prime minister. In the upcoming race, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the current LDP president, is favored to win a landslide victory over Shigeru Ishiba, a former state minister for regional revitalization who will probably be the only candidate challenging Abe.

A landslide win is forecast for Abe because almost all of the LDP's major factions have expressed support for his re-election to a third term. More than 320 (approximately 80 percent) of the LDP's 405 Diet members have reportedly decided to vote for Abe, while Ishiba has so far secured only 40 to 50 votes, or a mere 10 percent of the total.

That said, Ishiba still has a slight chance to become the next LDP chief and prime minister. If he wins overwhelming support among local members of the LDP, he might eliminate Abe's lead. This time, the number of votes allocated to the party's local members has been bumped up from 300 to 405 — equal to the allocation for Diet members. In a runoff to be held in the event that no candidate gets a majority vote in the first stage, 47 local votes (the number of prefectures in Japan) will be counted in addition to the 405 votes by the Diet members.