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Shigeru Ishiba, the dovish warship aficionado

Ex-defense minister opposes prime ministers' visits to Yasukuni Shrine

One of Shigeru Ishiba's passions is riding trains.

TOKYO -- A battle royale it is not. Campaigning for the next president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party kicks off this Friday with only two candidates expected to run, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe squares off against former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba in the Sept. 20 election.

The 61-year-old was twice appointed Director General of the Defense Agency in the early 2000s before it was upgraded to a ministry. Ishiba has also served as Defense Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

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