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Influential faction of Japan deputy PM Aso to back Suga for next premier: Kyodo

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso takes questions from reporters at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, U.S., October 18, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

TOKYO (Reuters) - A group of lawmakers led by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso will back Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga for the next premier, Kyodo news agency reported on Monday, giving Suga a boost from one of the largest factions within the ruling party.

Aso’s faction comprises 54 lawmakers, according to a spokeswoman from the faction’s office.

Former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as well as Suga are seen as major contenders in the race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; editing by Christian Schmollinger