A week after Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s abrupt resignation plunged Japan into political turmoil, the governing Liberal Democratic Party appears caught in a rare free-for-all, with as many as six candidates now vying for party leader and prime minister. But it is a matter of debate here whether it is a true contest or a virtual fracas, staged to build the party’s flagging public support.

The flood of new candidates, including a few party veterans, the first-ever female candidate and some young political unknowns, is a startling departure from Japan’s usually scripted political successions. Read in full