A veteran Japanese lawmaker is throwing his hat into the ring to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba says he'll stand in next month's leadership race. And the winner of that is all but certain to be Japan's next prime minister.
Ishiba announced his plan at a news conference Friday and vowed to restore trust in politics. He says "I believe politics needs to be honest and fair, sincere and humble. That's because the blueprint for Japan needs to be rewritten to cope with the major challenges the country will face in the future."
He says he would rebuild political, administrative, economic and social structures. And he promised to address some of Japan's most pressing demographic issues, including the ageing society and the urban-rural divide.
He says "The security environment and economy are rapidly changing. The situation surrounding Japan will become something completely different from the way it is today. And we must cope with such changes."
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hasn't formally declared he's seeking a third term as party leader, but he's indicated privately that he plans to do so. The last time he faced a leadership challenge was 6 years ago ... when he beat Ishiba.
Most of the LDP's factions have already said they'll support Abe. Only one of the 7 groups will back Ishiba and one will allow its members to vote freely.
Ishiba will need the support of lawmakers who aren't aligned with a faction ... as well as the grassroots party members across Japan.