Fellow party member and Foreign Minister Taro Aso is emerging as the favored successor of resigned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. If elected, Aso would face an economy saddled with the world's largest public debt, the stagnation of his own Liberal Democratic Party and the enmity of the main opposition party.
The LDP has ruled Japan almost uninterrupted since 1955 but has lost support in a series of stunning scandals, including the unaccountable loss of millions from state pension funds. Critics say that an Aso tenure is unlikely to change much: "It's just old faces inside a revolving door. Aso's very much a party blueblood," remarked one observer.