No majority expected in 1st round of LDP vote

Japan's main ruling Liberal Democratic Party will vote to pick a new president on Wednesday. The winner is virtually assured of replacing Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide at the helm of the government.

The four candidates wrapped up a 4-day online debate on Sunday. Analysis by NHK suggests none are on course to win a majority in the first round.

There are a total of 764 votes. Half come from lawmakers, and half come from rank-and-file party members.

The lawmakers apparently favor former LDP Policy Research Council chairperson Kishida Fumio. Sources say about 30 percent will give him their votes.

Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro is likely to secure about 25 percent.

And former internal affairs and communications minister Takaichi Sanae is likely to secure about 20 percent.

LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Noda Seiko is supported by around 20 lawmakers.

And some LDP lawmakers are still sitting on the fence. More than 10 percent have yet to make their stance clear.

Kono is expected to get the largest number of votes from rank-and-file party members and supporters, followed by Kishida and Takaichi. Kono and Kishida are leading in overall votes. Takaichi is just behind, and catching up.

If none of the candidates win a majority in the first round, the top two are certain to progress to the final round.

The head of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party says the public has a negative view about the LDP election amid the media's extensive coverage. Edano Yukio also says people understand the need for a fundamental political shift in Japan.