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PM Abe declares candidacy in 2-way race with Ishiba to lead LDP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

TARUMIZU, Kagoshima (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday he will run in the Liberal Democratic Party's leadership contest next month, setting the stage for an expected two-horse race with former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba.

    With official campaigning starting on Sept. 7, the ruling party will hold the leadership election, which could effectively decide Japan's next prime minister, on Sept. 20.

    Abe is predicted to win the contest as five of the seven intraparty factions, which encompass around 70 percent of party lawmakers, have expressed their readiness to back the incumbent leader.

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