Former Japanese minister Sanae Takaichi to seek party leadership, opening prospect of first female prime minister

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TOKYO, Sept. 8 (Reuters) – Former Japanese Home Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi is expected to announce his candidacy for the leadership of the ruling party on Wednesday, his office said, which, if successful, would see him become the first female Prime Minister of Japan.

Takaichi has the backing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, local media said, and would base his challenge on policies to push back the technological threat from China and strengthen an economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan will hold a leadership election on September 29, after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced his resignation on Friday. The winner of the vote is almost guaranteed to be the next prime minister of Japan.

So far, only the soft-spoken former foreign minister Fumio Kishida has announced his candidacy, but popular COVID-19 immunization minister Taro Kono and Takaichi have signaled their ambition to run.

Takaichi, 60, became the first female home minister in the second Abe administration in 2014.

But even though local media reported that influential Abe gave Takaichi her backing by helping him gain the 20 parliamentary backs needed to run for leadership, she ranked poorly in popularity. which could hurt his chances.

Grassroots PLD members will vote in the leadership elections along with party parliament members, and whoever wins will lead the party to the lower house elections due by November 28, making the appeal public an important factor in the choice of the new leader.

Takaichi said she wanted to work on issues left open by previous administrations, such as reaching 2% inflation and introducing legislation “that prevents the leak of sensitive information to China. “.

She said additional budget should be compiled as soon as possible to strengthen Japan’s medical system, which is under strain due to the pandemic.

A member of the more conservative wing of the party, she often visits the Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial to the war dead in Japan. Such visits by Japanese leaders infuriate former enemies of the war like China and South Korea.

She also objected to married couples keeping separate surnames, much to the dismay of women’s rights advocates.

Takaichi is scheduled to speak at 4:00 p.m. local time (7:00 GMT). Kishida gives a political speech at 10:00 a.m. (1:00 a.m. GMT).

Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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