Japan's Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
Japan's Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will join the race to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who would, in turn, become the next country's premier, a source familiar with the matter told Kyodo News Agency on Sunday.

Suga, the chief spokesperson for the government, informed LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai about his desire to contest the party's leadership election, a day after Abe announced he would step down as the Prime Minister due to health concerns, the source said.

Some senior members of the LDP have lauded Suga for his crisis management abilities, underlining that it is crucial to maintain policy continuity in the fight against COVID-19, the source added.

According to senior party lawmakers, the election is slated to be held on or around September 15. LDP policy chief and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba have also indicated their intention to participate in the election.

Suga, who has been serving as the government's top spokesperson since Abe assumed power in 2012, is one of the Prime Minister's closest aides and was considered a potential contender.

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