Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga intends to run in the ruling party leadership race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday, citing an unnamed source.
Abe, Japan's longest-serving premier, said on Friday he was stepping down due to a worsening of a chronic illness, setting the stage for a leadership election within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
LDP president is virtually assured of being PM
The LDP president is virtually assured of being prime minister because of the party's majority in the lower house of parliament.
Suga, a longtime lieutenant of the premier Abe, has emerged as a strong contender to succeed him as prime minister, an outcome that would extend the fiscal and monetary stimulus that defined Abe's nearly eight years in office.
A self-made politician, Suga was chosen by Abe in 2012 for the pivotal role of chief cabinet secretary, acting as top government spokesman, coordinating policies and riding herd on bureaucrats.