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Japan LDP heavyweight Kishida: Frank discussions needed with U.S. over defence burden

TOKYO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Former Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida, a candidate for leadership of the ruling party to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said on Wednesday that frank talks were needed with the United States over Japan’s share of its defence burden.

The United States, Tokyo’s key security ally, has been pressuring it to take on a greater share of the burden of its defence and pay more to host U.S. troops, and Kishida told Reuters that while each nation had its own view on the issue that should not be allowed to hurt mutual trust.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, said on Friday he would step down due to ill health, kicking off a leadership contest within his party. The winner is all but guaranteed the premiership because of the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) majority in the lower house of parliament.

The low-key Kishida was long assumed to be Abe’s preferred successor but has scored low in public opinion polls and lags behind Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga for support within the LDP. (Reporting by Mayu Yoshida, Elaine Lies and Takaya Yamaguchi, writing by Elaine Lies Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)