Japan's vaccine chief leading in polls for next prime minister

Japan's vaccine chief leading in polls for next prime minister
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Japan's COVID-19 vaccine minister Taro Kono is leading in opinion polls as the country's top pick for Prime Minister.

According to a Kyodo News poll released Sunday, 31.9 percent of respondents favor Kono, who has held various ministerial posts for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), as the replacement for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who announced his resignation last week

Former Japan Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba was the favored pick for 26.6 percent of respondents, and 18.8 percent selected former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, reports the Times.

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Kono, who is also the administrative reform minister, attended Georgetown University and speaks English fluently. He has gathered public support through his popular social media accounts, notes Reuters.

Reports have circulated that the outgoing PM will support Kono in the upcoming Sept. 29 LDP leadership election, according to The Guardian.

Suga announced on Friday that he would not contest the ruling party's leadership race in a few weeks, citing the need to focus on the country's coronavirus response. 

"Working on Covid countermeasures and election activities requires a tremendous amount of energy, so I decided that I cannot work on both and should choose one of them," Suga said, according to CNN