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Japan election

Former Communications Minister Noda enters LDP leadership race

She and Sanae Takaichi are both vying to be Japan's first female PM

Former Japanese Communications Minister Seiko Noda plans to run in the presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Former Japanese Communications Minister Seiko Noda said Thursday she will run in the presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

She is the fourth candidate to enter the Sept. 29 race to effectively choose the country's next leader, after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced his intention to resign amid mounting criticism over his government's COVID-19 response.

Noda, who does not belong to an LDP faction, has secured the necessary 20 nominations from lawmakers to enter the contest, she said.

Vaccine czar Taro Kono, former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Sanae Takaichi, another former communications minister, have already announced their bids and are making the rounds on media promoting their policy proposals.

Noda, 61, and Takaichi are both seeking to become Japan's first woman prime minister, a post the new LDP leader will take as the party controls the powerful lower house of parliament.

Born in Fukuoka Prefecture, Noda worked for the operator of the high-end Imperial Hotel in Tokyo before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 from a constituency in Gifu.

Having experienced struggles with fertility treatment and now raising a son with disabilities, one of Noda's policy focuses is on boosting support for parents and tackling Japan's low birthrate.

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