Yoshihide Suga is all set to become Japan’s new PM

Yoshihide Suga is all set to become Japan’s new Prime Minister. He was elected by ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers and representatives as the party’s new president on Monday. Suga is expected to take the helm at a critical moment when the country has been hit by a pandemic and economic slump and is grappling with national security issues. The party's new president pledged to keep a good balance between fighting the coronavirus pandemic and promoting economic activities.
Of 534 votes — 393 LDP lawmakers and 141 party representatives from across the country — Suga won by a wide margin, capturing 377 votes, or 70 percent. Policy Council Chairman Fumio Kishida secured 89 votes, and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba received 68. The LDP has a comfortable majority in the Lower House, essentially guaranteeing that Suga will become the prime minister Wednesday.
The result is the culmination of a mere weeklong campaign to choose the country’s next leader, who Abe himself imagined would be Kishida and the public initially wanted to be Ishiba.
Suga, who is the son of a strawberry farmer from Akita Prefecture and started his career in politics as a secretary of a Lower House member, has had plenty of media exposure throughout his tenure as the chief government spokesman, which sees him give a media briefing twice a day, five days a week and on emergency occasions. His big break came last year when he unveiled the name of Japan’s new imperial era, earning him the nickname “Uncle Reiwa.”
The tide changed this summer when Abe visited a hospital twice and a resulting rumour about his deteriorating health condition caught Nagatacho, Japan’s political center, off guard.
After Prime Minister ShinzoAbe announced he would be stepping down, citing a chronic illness, on Aug. 28, LDP factions rushed to find a successor. Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, who was tasked with deciding procedures on the LDP presidential election backed Suga and decided to carry out a the downscaled contest, bypassing rank-and-file votes in a crushing blow to Ishiba.
Suga is set to enter the Prime Minister’s Office and form a new Cabinet on Wednesday with the expectation that he will deliver on his promise to double down on policies inherited by his predecessor, such as Abenomics.
 

- Prabhakar Purandare

Other Editorials