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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will step down, Kyodo news reported on Friday, and party sources said he would not run in a ruling party leader race in September, setting the stage for his replacement after just one year in office.

Here are some initial reactions to the news;

KOICHI NAKANO, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY

“Now that it’s an open race, anyone can run … The question is what will (former premier Shinzo) Abe and (Finance Minister Taro) Aso decide. They must be thinking whom to back – they want someone who is both popular and a puppet.”

“(Administrative Reform Minister Taro) Kono may decide to run.”

“(Former defence minister Shigeru) Ishiba – does he have the 20 signatures needed to run? He has 17 in his faction, in contrast to (former foreign minister Fumio) Kishida, who has a bigger faction and has made himself credible as a candidate. Ishiba has come across as indecisive.”

“Kishida is the top runner for the time being but that doesn’t mean his victory is assured.”

DAIJU AOKI, CHIEF JAPAN ECONOMIST, UBS SUMI TRUST WEALTH MANAGEMENT, TOKYO

“It was a surprise, but it provided more certainty and forward-looking prospects rather than uncertainty as the market had been informed of Kishida’s policies (at his Thursday press conference) such as expansionary fiscal policy, support for household incomes and new measures to combat the coronavirus.”

TORU SUEHIRO, SENIOR ECONOMIST AT DAIWA SECURITIES, TOKYO

“Stock prices are rising based on a view that the chance of LDP’s defeat in the general election has diminished because anyone other than Suga will be able to regain popularity.”

“Regardless of who runs for the party leadership race with what kind of policy manifestos, the market seems to favour the increased prospect that the current LDP administration will continue stably.”

(Reporting by Linda Sieg and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)



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