Japan's ruling party votes for new leader who will almost certainly be next PM

Kono has the highest numbers in public polls, but Kishida leads among lawmakers, predictions show, as senior party bosses see him as being more stable.Contenders need to attract votes from grassroots LDP members and rookie lawmakers, who have emerged as a force in the brief campaign preceding the vote and who are more likely to be swayed by popularity ratings, while also wooing LDP party bosses. But rank-and-file members will have less say in the run-off, as the second-round vote gives greater weight to parliamentarians. That change in the voting dynamics gives Kishida an advantage in the run-off battle against Kono. In the event of a run-off, Takaichi, a contender in third, has agreed to support Kishida, Sankei Newspaper reported on Wednesday. A win by Kono or Kishida is unlikely to trigger a huge shift in policies as Japan seeks to cope with an assertive China and revive an economy hit by the pandemic, but Kono's push for renewable energy and to remove bureaucratic obstacles to reform have made him appealing to investors and business chiefs. Takaichi has been more outspoken on hot-button issues such as acquiring the ability to strike enemy missile launchers. She has also made it clear that as prime minister, she would visit the Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, seen in Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. Kono has said he would not. The candidates have also clashed over cultural values, with Kono favouring legal changes to allow same-sex marriage and separate surnames for married couples, both anathema to conservatives like Takaichi. Kono and Kishida have pointed to the failure of Abe's signature "Abenomics" mix of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies and growth strategy to benefit households, but offered few specifics as to how to fix the flaw, while Takaichi has modelled her "Sanaenomics" on her mentor Abe's plans. For some time, the next prime minister will continue with expansionary economic policy, as the pandemic has yet to be contained, said Ryutaro Kono, chief Japan economist at BNP Paribas. "Regardless of who becomes Japan’s next prime minister, the current expansionary fiscal and monetary policies will continue for at least another year because of the pandemic," he said.

Japan's ruling party votes for new leader who will almost certainly be next PM

Kono has the highest numbers in public polls, but Kishida leads among lawmakers, predictions show, as senior party bosses see him as being more stable.

Contenders need to attract votes from grassroots LDP members and rookie lawmakers, who have emerged as a force in the brief campaign preceding the vote and who are more likely to be swayed by popularity ratings, while also wooing LDP party bosses.

But rank-and-file members will have less say in the run-off, as the second-round vote gives greater weight to parliamentarians.

That change in the voting dynamics gives Kishida an advantage in the run-off battle against Kono. In the event of a run-off, Takaichi, a contender in third, has agreed to support Kishida, Sankei Newspaper reported on Wednesday.

A win by Kono or Kishida is unlikely to trigger a huge shift in policies as Japan seeks to cope with an assertive China and revive an economy hit by the pandemic, but Kono's push for renewable energy and to remove bureaucratic obstacles to reform have made him appealing to investors and business chiefs.

Takaichi has been more outspoken on hot-button issues such as acquiring the ability to strike enemy missile launchers. She has also made it clear that as prime minister, she would visit the Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, seen in Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. Kono has said he would not.

The candidates have also clashed over cultural values, with Kono favouring legal changes to allow same-sex marriage and separate surnames for married couples, both anathema to conservatives like Takaichi.

Kono and Kishida have pointed to the failure of Abe's signature "Abenomics" mix of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies and growth strategy to benefit households, but offered few specifics as to how to fix the flaw, while Takaichi has modelled her "Sanaenomics" on her mentor Abe's plans.

For some time, the next prime minister will continue with expansionary economic policy, as the pandemic has yet to be contained, said Ryutaro Kono, chief Japan economist at BNP Paribas.

"Regardless of who becomes Japan’s next prime minister, the current expansionary fiscal and monetary policies will continue for at least another year because of the pandemic," he said.