TOKYO - Japan's administrative reform minister Taro Kono who is also in charge of COVID-19 vaccinations is the most popular pick to succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has announced his intention to resign, according to the result of a Kyodo News poll released Sunday.
Kono, known as an outspoken lawmaker adept at social media, gained 31.9 percent of support from respondents in the nationwide telephone survey conducted on Saturday and Sunday, ahead of former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba with 26.6 percent and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida with 18.8 percent.
They are among the potential contenders in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Sept. 29 presidential election which will effectively pick the next prime minister.
Kishida and former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi have said they will join the race, while the others have yet to announce their decisions.
Suga, who has seen his approval ratings drop to record lows in media polls, said on Friday he will not run in the upcoming LDP leadership race.
On his decision to step down as premier, 56.7 percent said his resignation is a matter of course, with 56.3 percent disapproving of his government's COVID-19 response since he took office in September last year.