Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is certain to clinch a third term in the ruling party’s presidential election in September, senior party lawmaker Toshihiro Nikai said Tuesday.
“There is no doubt that (Abe) will win his third term,” the Liberal Democratic Party secretary general said in a speech in Tokyo.
Despite a spate of scandals that once sent Abe’s public approval rates sharply lower, Nikai’s remarks have raised expectations that Abe will remain as premier and become Japan’s longest-serving leader, as the leader of the ruling party is typically appointed prime minister.
The LDP decided last year to extend the party president term limit from two to three consecutive three-year terms, allowing Abe to remain party leader until September 2021.
The LDP plans to hold its presidential election on Sept. 20, and Abe is expected to announce his candidacy July 22 when the current Diet session ends.
Nikai, who leads the LDP’s fifth-largest intraparty faction, has said he supports Abe. His faction has also indicated its support and led the effort to reelect Abe as party leader.
Former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, the party’s policy chief Fumio Kishida and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda are considered possible candidates.