Party begins process to find Abe successor

Sept. 13, 2007 at 1:28 AM

TOKYO, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party may need to revise its procedures for electing a leader to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who plans to resign.

The next party president is virtually assured of becoming the prime minister because of the party’s majority in Parliament.

LDP executives were expected to propose the election campaign begin Friday and voting by members of both houses of Parliament be set for next Wednesday, Kyodo news service reported Thursday.

However, some members reportedly want a longer campaign schedule before the voting. Others want non-lawmakers and party associates to also be allowed to vote, Kyodo said.

The key campaign issues are likely to include allowing Japanese vessels to continue to provide refueling facilities in the Indian Ocean to help the U.S.-led anti-terrorism operation in Afghanistan, and strengthening the party in the wake of its loss of majority in the upper house of Parliament in elections last July.

The report said party General Secretary Taro Aso and former Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki may be among contenders for the post. Other names being mentioned are former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the report said.

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