Tarnished prize

Two contenders to lead Japan's divided Liberal Democratic Party dropped out of the race as opposition moves to form a coalition meant the job no longer carried the automatic prize of premiership, Reuter reports from Tokyo.

LDP sources said the former deputy prime minister, Michio Watanabe, and the former trade minister, Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, would not run in the 30 July ballot. It was an admission that the next government could be formed by non-LDP forces.