Yoshihide Suga to succeed Shinzo Abe as Japan's Prime MinisterLast updated on Sep 15, 2020, 12:50 am
Yoshihide Suga (71) is set to become the next Prime Minister of Japan after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) elected him as the new head.
The leadership election voted on a successor for PM Shinzo Abe, who had announced his resignation last month due to health problems.
Suga's election guarantees his victory in the parliamentary vote due Wednesday owing to the LDP's majority.
Suga secured 377 of 534 votes
LDP MPs from both Houses of the Parliament and representatives from prefectural chapters of the LDP voted overwhelmingly for Suga.
The 71-year-old secured 377 of the 534 votes. Meanwhile, Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister, garnered 89 votes, and Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister, secured just 68.
Given the LDP's majority in the Parliament, Suga should win the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.
Suga promises Cabinet that 'works for the people'
While accepting the nomination, Suga—the son of a strawberry farmer from rural Japan—said he had "started from zero."
He said, "With this background, I was able to become the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, with all its history and tradition," promising to form a Cabinet that "works for the people."
"I will devote the whole of myself to Japan and the Japanese people."
Suga viewed as Abe's continuity candidate
Suga, an Abe loyalist, is widely viewed as the outgoing PM's continuity candidate. He is currently the chief Cabinet secretary of Abe's government.
Notably, Suga had recently said that Abe's economic policy—which involves huge government spending, ultra-easy monetary policy, and structural reforms—will remain untouched.
Abe told MPs he was "handing the baton" to Suga adding, "We can count on him."
What are the challenges Suga will face?
At the moment, Japan faces multiple challenges such as sustaining the recent decline in the number of coronavirus infections, seeing the postponed Tokyo Olympics through, and ending the prolonged recession in the world's third-biggest economy which was worsened by the pandemic.
Suga will also have to address pending concerns in his predecessor's government: Japan's aging population, low birthrate, and poor record on gender equality.
Speculations of snap general election next month
There is speculation that Suga might hold a snap general election in October to increase his chances of winning a full three-year term during the LDP's leadership vote next September.
"The next administration will likely face criticism for being formed without a public mandate," Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Sunday.
However, Suga has said his priority will be the pandemic and the economy.