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Japan after Abe

How Japan's Suga went from dark horse to favorite in PM race

Fear of archnemesis Ishiba drives meteoric rise of Abe’s right-hand man

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is now the front-runner to become Japan's next prime minister. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- The realization haunted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

His protege, Fumio Kishida, an earnest but uninspiring party policy chief, would likely lose against popular former defense chief Shigeru Ishiba in a race to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Ishiba, Abe's archrival, would then become Japan's next leader.

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