Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) started its presidential election Monday.
Eligible voters have begun casting their ballots at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo.
A total of 527 ballots, consisting of 386 ballots from LDP Diet members and 141 from prefectural representatives, will be cast to pick the party's chief.
Of the 141 prefectural ballots, LDP Secretary General Taro Aso is taking an dominant lead with 134 votes.
Aso is poised to be elected the LDP president as he has maintained a convenient lead during the election campaigns with the support of some 60 percent of LDP lawmakers and more than 80 of the prefectural chapter representatives.
Former LDP policy chief Nobuteru Ishihara, former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano, are the other four candidates vying with Aso in the race for the party chief.
At a special session Wednesday, the Diet will surely choose the winner of the LDP presidential election as Japan's new prime minister, as the LDP commands the majority in the more powerful House of Representatives, which is entitled to decide on the country's new leader.
(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2008)