Campaigning for the leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan kicked off on Friday with four contenders vying to succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as the leader of the party and government.

The four candidates running in the LDP's leadership election include former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, current minister of administrative and regulatory reform, Taro Kono, and former interior and communications ministers, Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda respectively.

The internal elections of the LDP, scheduled for Sep. 29, will take place as planned at the end of the mandate of the current party leader, Suga, who took over from Shinzo Abe a year ago on Sep. 16, 2020 after his resignation due to health reasons.

Suga, whose public approval rating has sunk in recent months as a result of his handling of the coronavirus epidemic, announced earlier this month that he would not run for re-election as leader of the ruling party, effectively announcing his resignation.