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LDP Campaign to Succeed Koizumi Officially Begins
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Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki and Foreign Minister Taro Aso filed their candidacies on Friday as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) began official campaigning for its Sept. 20 presidential election which will select a successor to the outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The three, with Abe enjoying a comfortable lead in popularity and being believed certain to win, were registered by their assistants at the headquarters of the LDP in Tokyo.

Results of recent media research showed that Abe not only has secured the support of over 70 percent of fellow LDP lawmakers who will vote in the election, but also have the advantage over the other two candidates in 36 local LDP organizations.

The three candidates are to explain their policy viewpoints on issues of domestic politics and foreign affairs on various occasions in order to catch a simple majority of ballots in the presidential election on Sept. 20 when 403 LDP lawmakers and 300 party members from local chapters will cast their votes to select the party chief.

The issues at the center of their debate are Japan's isolated diplomacy in Asia and tax hike, as well as income and regional disparities, the local press said.

Winner of the election is certain to be next prime minister because the ruling bloc, made up of the LDP and its coalition partner New Komeito party, has a majority in the lower house, which hold the decision power in selecting the premier.

The LDP and opposition parties agreed on Thursday to pick the successor to Koizumi in an extra Diet session on Sept. 26.

(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2006)

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