Japan ruling party leadership race to begin: Five things to know

Japan ruling party leadership race to begin: Five things to know

The campaign to elect the leader of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will start on Tuesday. Under party rules, the new leader will only serve out the remainder of Abe’s three-year term, which runs until late September 2021.

Abe announced his resignation on Aug. 28 after nearly eight years in office. Since the LDP-led coalition holds a majority in both chambers of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, and the Diet elects the prime minister, becoming leader of the LDP essentially means being crowned prime minister.

Key questions are whether the new leader can extend Abe’s strong and stable leadership or signal a return to a period of so-called revolving-door prime ministers when many served for short periods.

The current LDP-led coalition government is expected to call a special Diet session to elect the prime minister on Sept. 16, following the party vote.

Here are five issues to keep in mind for the coming leadership race and what comes after it is decided.

How is a new leader elected?

The LDP said that the vote will be held in a slimmed-down format involving 394 lawmakers and 141 representatives from the party’s 47 prefectural chapters, but will not include the 1.09 million rank-and-file party members.

The format was approved at a meeting of the party’s executive council on Sept. 1. The LDP said the election needs to be held as soon as possible to relieve Abe of his burdens and also to cope with urgent issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. Abe cited his declining health in announcing his resignation.