Factbox-Japan PM Suga is stepping down. What's next for Japan's political calendar? 

in September 7th, 2021
FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends a news conference on Japan's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool/File Photo/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends a news conference on Japan's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool/File Photo/File Photo

By Sakura Murakami

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has announced he would not seek a second term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, setting the stage for a new prime minister following a Sept. 29 party leadership vote.

So far lawmakers such as former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, COVID-19 vaccine minister Taro Kono, and former internal minister Sanae Takaichi have expressed their ambition to run for the post.

Here are the next steps and important dates in Japan's political calendar.

What's next for the LDP leadership race?

* Campaigning for the LDP leadership election starts onSept. 17. Votes are counted on Sept. 29. * The top contenders of the race are currently FumioKishida, Taro Kono and Sanae Takaichi. * Former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba, who often rankshigh in popularity polls, decided against running for the postand will throw his support behind Kono, according to local mediareports.

Why does it matter?

* The winner of the LDP leadership race is expected toreplace Suga as premier of Japan given the LDP's majority inparliament. * The new prime minister will face a COVID pandemic thatshows no signs of abating and an economy beleaguered byemergency curbs in place due to the spread of coronavirus.

How does the vote work?

* There will be 766 votes up for grabs for the LDPleadership race, with the candidate who takes the majority setto become party president. * Half of the 766 votes will be allocated to LDP lawmakerswho will cast one ballot each. * The distribution of the remaining 383 votes are determinedby 1.13 million rank-and-file party members registered with theLDP. The votes cast by party members will be allocated accordingto a proportional representation system called the D'Hondtmethod. * If no one wins the majority in the first round of voting,there will be a run-off vote between the top two candidates. 430votes will be cast in the run-off, of which 383 lawmakers and 47local party chapters will be allocated a ballot each.

What's next in the political calendar after the LDP leadership race?

* Once a new LDP leader is elected, parliament will becalled into session to elect the country's next prime minister.The candidate who wins the majority of votes cast by the lowerand upper houses of parliament will take the top job. * Given the LDP's majority in both houses, the LDP leaderwill likely be elected as prime minister. * The new premier is also expected to form a new cabinet andreshuffle the LDP party executives in early Oct.

When will the next general election take place?

* The terms of the current members of the lower house ofparliament run until Oct. 21, meaning a general election will beheld this year. * Prime ministers reserve the right to dissolve the lowerhouse of parliament and call a snap election. Snap electionsmust take place within 40 days of the premier dissolving thelower house of parliament. * Given that the terms of the lower house members willexpire on Oct. 21, the latest that a snap general election cantake place is Nov. 28. In Japan, elections are traditionallyheld on a Sunday. * If the premier does not dissolve the lower house andlawmakers carry out full terms, a general election must be heldwithin 30 days of parliament closing. * In this case, the latest a general election will takeplace is Nov. 14.

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