Kono seen as top contender as Japan PM race kicks off

The popular Kono, whose resume is studded with jobs including the foreign and defence portfolios, faces off against former foreign minister Fumio Kishida; Sanae Takaichi, who held the internal affairs ministry post; and Seiko Noda, a former minister for gender equality.Unlike in last year's LDP race, when Suga replaced then prime minister Shinzo Abe, grassroots LDP members will join lawmakers in casting ballots. The race was officially launched by representatives of each contender registering their candidacies at LDP headquarters on Friday. The media-savvy, US-educated Kono, at 58 on the younger side for a Japanese premier, is widely seen as the frontrunner due to his popularity with the public, who regularly choose him as their favourite for prime minister. Investors have also recently warmed to Kono at Kishida's expense. His chances were bolstered this week when LDP heavyweight Shigeru Ishiba, who is popular with the party rank and file and had been considering his own candidacy, threw his support behind Kono.

Kono seen as top contender as Japan PM race kicks off

The popular Kono, whose resume is studded with jobs including the foreign and defence portfolios, faces off against former foreign minister Fumio Kishida; Sanae Takaichi, who held the internal affairs ministry post; and Seiko Noda, a former minister for gender equality.

Unlike in last year's LDP race, when Suga replaced then prime minister Shinzo Abe, grassroots LDP members will join lawmakers in casting ballots.

The race was officially launched by representatives of each contender registering their candidacies at LDP headquarters on Friday.

The media-savvy, US-educated Kono, at 58 on the younger side for a Japanese premier, is widely seen as the frontrunner due to his popularity with the public, who regularly choose him as their favourite for prime minister. Investors have also recently warmed to Kono at Kishida's expense.

His chances were bolstered this week when LDP heavyweight Shigeru Ishiba, who is popular with the party rank and file and had been considering his own candidacy, threw his support behind Kono.