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Japan after Abe

Japan succession race kicks off, starring Abe's deputies and rival

Right-hand man Suga, longtime anchor of government, seen as a possible successor

Clockwise from top left: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and current Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's abrupt resignation has thrust the ruling Liberal Democratic Party into a scramble to pick the next leader. With the longest-reigning Japanese leader having no heir apparent, the race is likely to be fought among some of his closest deputies, along with an archrival who has long vied for the post.

The LDP is expected to hold an election to choose its next leader by mid-September. The winner of that race will become Japan's prime minister, who will face the challenge of containing the coronavirus outbreak while nurturing the battered economy back to health.

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