Heading into 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seemed poised for a strong, stable year atop Japan’s government. Many observers were debating whether the Liberal Democratic Party would change its rules to grant him a fourth term as party president, which on paper could have extended his run until 2024.

Nobody is debating that now. Instead, speculation is swirling that Abe is a lame duck and a snap election may be his only option to salvage what’s left of his prime ministership. Amid this speculation, there will be two questions in many minds: one, how long does Abe have left; and two, who might be poised to succeed him?

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