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Japan election

Japan's Ishiba balks at running in party race, in boon for Kono

Ex-defense minister fails to gain traction as support grows for vaccine czar

Former Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba has run for Liberal Democratic Party leadership four times, all unsuccessfully.

TOKYO -- Former Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba has expressed reservations about running in this month's ruling party leadership election as party support grows for a rival, popular vaccination minister Taro Kono.

If Ishiba, once seen as a leading contender, skips the race, the Liberal Democratic Party election could become a three-horse race among Kono, former LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida and former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi.

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