Japan's ruling party votes for a new leader on Wednesday who will almost certainly become the next prime minister ahead of a general election due in weeks and with the economy staggering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Trend reports citing Reuters.
Running for the top post are popular vaccine minister Taro Kono, 58, a U.S.-educated former defence and foreign minister seen as a maverick; ex-foreign minister Fumio Kishida, 64, a consensus-builder saddled with a bland image; former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi, 60, an ultra-conservative; and Seiko Noda, 61, from the party's dwindling liberal wing.
The leadership election is shaping up to be a showdown between Kono and Kishida.
"I did all I had to do. Next is just to wait for a call," Kono told reporters, according to Kyodo.
Party lawmakers will begin voting at 1:00 p.m. Japan time(0400 GMT) at a Tokyo hotel. Rank-and-file party members have been voting for several days. Results from all ballots are scheduled to be announced at 2:20 p.m.
If any candidate gets a clear majority, though projections show it is unlikely, that person will become the winner.
If not, the top two candidates in the first round will immediately go into a run-off vote. The results of the second round of voting are expected around 3:40 p.m.