By MARI YAMAGUCHI
TOKYO (AP) — Official campaigning has begun for the new head of Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party, who typically becomes the national leader. Four candidates are competing in the Sept. 29 vote to replace outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who will quit when his term ends at the end of this month after serving only one year. Their policies largely focus on the pandemic and its economic fallout, and the increasingly assertive role China is playing in regional affairs. Unusually for Japan, two women are competing in the race. Suga says he wants Taro Kono, currently the Cabinet minister in charge of vaccinations and a front-runner, to succeed him. Support ratings for Suga and his government nosedived over his handling of the coronavirus.