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The weekend round of press reports surrounding LDP succession race suggests that Administration Reform Minister Taro Kono, tasked with overseeing the country's Covid-19 vaccine rollout, is emerging as a serious contender. Nippon News Network reported on Saturday that PM Suga would back Kono's bid, while Kyodo circulated an opinion poll showing that he was the most popular pick to replace Suga. As many as 31.9% of respondents in Kyodo's nationwide survey expressed support for Kono, placing him ahead of Shigeru Ishiba (26.6%) and Fumio Kishida (18.8%). Kono is a member of a faction led by Finance Minister Taro Aso and met with several of its members over the weekend, but it is unclear if the entire group would support him.

  • Former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Former Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi remain the only candidates who have openly launched their bids to succeed Suga as LDP leader. Kishida held virtual talks with LDP members from Okinawa, likely in an attempt to garner support among rank-and-file members opposing heavy U.S. military presence in the prefecture. Reports have also pointed to Kishida's popularity among younger party members, who feared losing their seats should Suga remain at the helm.
  • Kishida said on Saturday that he supports leaving the sales tax at 10% and would fund the government's new stimulus measures through the issuance more JGBs. In a Sunday interview, Kishida said that the debate on funding stimulus measures should be postponed until after the upcoming general election, signalling potential delay in finalising the package during the busy election period.
  • Many have been wondering who would win the blessing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. TBS reported on Saturday that Abe would support Sanae Takaichi, who has struggled to win the backing of 20 MPs needed to register her candidature. Takaichi is not affiliated with any faction within the LDP, but Abe is known to have much influence over the largest faction led by Hiroyuki Hosoda.