The vote for the leadership of the ruling Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is entering a second round.
The new party leader will almost certainly also succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is not running for parliamentary elections later this year. The LDP has a majority in the Japanese lower house.
Current corona minister Taro Kono and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida will face each other in the decisive second round. They received the most votes of the four candidates in the first round of voting, but neither man received an absolute majority of the party members. Kishida received 256 of the 762 votes, Kono narrowly followed with 255.
Suga has been prime minister for barely a year. In 2020, he took over from Shinzo Abe, who resigned for health reasons. Suga became Japan’s first new prime minister in eight years.
The incumbent government leader was not very popular among the Japanese people because of his failing corona approach and letting the Olympic Games go ahead. In polls early this month, the prime minister achieved a less than 30 percent popularity rating last month.