Koizumi backs out from race to succeed Abe

(Reuters) – Japan’s Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi has decided not to join the race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.

Koizumi, popular son of former maverick premier Junichiro Koizumi, would back Defence Minister Taro Kono if he joins the race for president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, NHK said.

The LDP president is virtually assured of being prime minister because of the party’s majority in the lower house of parliament.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by William Mallard)