Weekly Roundup: Suga Out in Japan

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Japan's energy policy faces unprecedented uncertainty after the surprise decision by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to drop out of the Sep. 29 election for president of the ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Plagued by plunging approval ratings, linked mainly to poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Suga's Sep. 3 announcement followed a meeting of LDP executives ahead of a general election expected by Oct. 17. Contenders for the hot seat include ex-Foreign Minister and former LDP Policy Chief Fumio Kishida, State Minister for Administrative Reform Taro Kono and Sanae Takaichi, who held several ministerial posts under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Little change in energy policy is likely from either Kishida or Takaichi, who will need backing from the pro-nuclear Abe. Change is more likely from the straight-speaking maverick Kono, who has given renewables proponents a platform in his high-profile administrative and regulatory system reform commission. An even bigger wild card is whether the LDP leadership struggle will affect the party's chances of retaining a parliamentary majority.

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