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Japan ex-defence minister to challenge Abe as party chief

AFP  |  Tokyo 

Former Japanese today announced a long-shot bid to unseat Shinzo as of the country's ruling party in elections next month.

is widely expected to win another term as of the with Ishiba likely to be his only challenger.

Polls suggest the is supported by around 70 percent of LDP members and winning the vote would put him on the path to becoming Japan's ever.

Despite the odds, 61-year-old Ishiba said he had decided to challenge to "restore confidence in the government, which should be at the service of citizens".

Earlier this year, Abe's popularity ratings slumped with his administration mired in two cronyism scandals.

But he has recovered from the rows, and is viewed as a shoo-in to win the internal election next month, which is held every three years.

In 2015 he ran unopposed, and in 2012 he beat four other contenders, including Ishiba, who was then seen as the

Ishiba has expressed surprise at the dearth of challengers to Abe. "It's a chorus of 'I won't run. I support Abe'," he told a local television station this week.

A defence hawk, Ishiba favours a revision of Japan's pacifist constitution along more radical lines than Abe, and has even controversially suggested should consider having nuclear weapons.

He may well end up being Abe's sole rival, with another potential challenger, former Fumio Kishida, already ruling out a bid.

has reportedly considered running, but lacks support from enough party members.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, August 10 2018. 16:00 IST