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Newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s residence. Newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Sept. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

As the End of the Abe Era Approaches in Japan, a Succession Battle Looms

Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019

Barring the unexpected, Shinzo Abe will become the longest-serving prime minister in Japan’s history this November. Speculation is already rife among Japanese commentators over who could be next in line for the top job. A major reshuffle of Abe’s Cabinet earlier this month sets the stage for what the Nikkei Asian Review calls “Japan’s post-Abe game of thrones.”

The crowded field of potential successors include Taro Kono, who was appointed defense minister after serving a two-year stint as foreign minister, and Toshimitsu Motegi, who replaced Kono at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Motegi has been close to Abe for years, and he proved his mettle as the lead negotiator for a trade agreement with the United States, which was signed at a meeting between Abe and President Donald Trump in New York on Wednesday. Both of them could be angling to succeed Abe as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP; his third and likely final term will end in September 2021. ...

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