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Mixed elections threaten power balance in Abe's inner circle

Suga gains momentum from Hokkaido and Osaka results, while Aso falls behind

The outcome of April 7's regional elections could have starkly different political implications for Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, left, and Finance Minister Taro Aso.

TOKYO -- Two gubernatorial elections that brought starkly different outcomes for Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Sunday could alter the power dynamic between two of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's most trusted aides: the finance minister and the chief cabinet secretary.

The LDP's Fukuoka Prefecture gubernatorial candidate, whom Finance Minister Taro Aso backed over the doubts of peers, lost to the incumbent by nearly 1 million votes. In contrast, the Hokkaido gubernatorial race ended in victory for the LDP's Naomichi Suzuki, who was supported by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

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