ANKARA – Potential successors of outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have accelerated lobbying for the top post.

After working for the country as the longest-serving premier, Abe, in a surprise statement last week, stepped down owing to his complicated health conditions.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will hold a leadership election on Sept. 14 and the parliament will meet three days later when the new LDP leader will have to prove majority to be elected as the prime minister, Kyodo News reported.

Abe refused to comment publicly on his successor.

“I have decided to step down as prime minister as poor health should not lead to wrong political decisions,” Abe, 65, told the nation in a live address Friday.

The outgoing premier is suffering from ulcerative colitis which seems to have revived and came to light last month when he reportedly vomited blood.

He, however, will hold the office until the successor is chosen.

“In politics, the most import thing is to produce results,” said Abe, who leaves a legacy of making Japan the world’s third-largest economy. His four-year term would normally have ended in 2021.

According to local daily Mainichi, current government Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, 71, Sunday “decided to a run for the leadership of the LDP”.

Japan’s former Defense Chief Shigeru Ishiba is also said to be in the run for the top post while Fumio Kishida, former foreign minister and now policy chief of the LDP, are also solidifying efforts to move up to lead the party and the country.

Trump calls Abe ‘greatest prime minister’ of Japan

Calling Abe “greatest Prime Minister in the history of Japan”, US President Donald Trump and Japan’s outgoing premier held a 30-minute phone call on Monday.

The duo discussed Abe’s move out of the office, North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and Japan's plans to renew its missile defense strategy, Suga said.

“Just had a wonderful conversation with my friend, Prime Minister @AbeShinzo of Japan, who will be leaving office soon. Shinzo will soon be recognized as the greatest Prime Minister in the history of Japan, whose relationship with the USA is the best it has ever been. Special man!” Trump tweeted.

Abe and Trump had grown closer ties ever since Trump rose to lead the US in 2017 and they also played several rounds of golf together.

“The two leaders said they look forward to continuing their wonderful friendship for years to come!" the White House said in a statement.

Covid-19 hits new high in Tokyo

Meanwhile, Japan’s capital Tokyo recorded a new monthly high of 8,126 Covid-19 cases in August after 100 new cases were reported today, the local government said.

Tokyo had reported 6,466 such infections in July. There are at least 20,817 coronavirus cases in the capital.

Nearly 69,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the country. Over 1,264 patients have died due to the Covid-19. Japan has conducted 1,290,979 tests to determine the infection. (Anadolu)