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Abe cancels visits to southern Japan to lead Typhoon Jebi response

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe canceled his visits to the southern prefectures of Fukuoka and Kumamoto on Sept. 4 to lead the government's response to powerful Typhoon Jebi as it pounded west Japan with heavy rains and high winds.

Abe, 63, had planned the visits as part of his effort to attract local support for his bid to win the upcoming presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which he intends to lead for a third term.

Abe told a meeting of senior LDP officials the same day that he would do his best to organize disaster prevention measures for areas affected by the storm, which the Japan Meteorological Agency said is one of the strongest in 25 years.

Abe also chaired a meeting of officials from government ministries and agencies at the prime minister's office in central Tokyo and instructed the attendants to put an extra effort into disaster prevention.

On Sept. 4, Abe was originally scheduled to inspect the port of Hakata in the city of Fukuoka and attend LDP gatherings there and in the town of Mashiki, which was devastated by massive earthquakes in 2016.

Meanwhile, Abe's main contender in the presidential race, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, unveiled a film summarizing his main policy pledges at a press conference inside the Diet in Tokyo. Ishiba, 61, has held six news conferences already since he announced his candidacy in the election on Aug. 10, and he plans to join an internet television program in a bid to spread his views through the media and attract support from rank-and-file LDP members.

(Japanese original by Minami Nomaguchi, Political; News Department)

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