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Yoshihide Suga set to be the next Japan PM after winning the LDP leadership election

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Yoshihide Suga

Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) elected Yoshihide Suga, the current Chief Cabinet secretary, as its new leader, paving the way for him to succeed Shinzo Abe as the new Prime Minister of the country later this week.

During Monday’s internal vote, Suga was picked as the new LDP leader by party lawmakers of both chambers of Parliament. After receiving 377 votes out of the total 534 votes, Suga defeated his two rivals – former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (89 votes) and former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba (68 votes). This development has come days after the longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, announced his resignation on health grounds.

During the post-election press conference, 71-year-old Suga pledged to promote economic growth in Japan and to continue the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. Significantly, the new Prime Minister of Japan will also be addressing various diplomatic, national, and geopolitical challenges inherited from Shinzo Abe. Seen as a bold spokesperson and government adviser, Suga is expected to handle the challenges and continue the policies formulated by outgoing PM Shinzo Abe in a stable and effective manner.

“I will devote all of myself to work for Japan and its citizens,” he said following his election as LDP leader.

As business activities resume across Japan in line with the process of post-pandemic recovery, Suga will face a critical challenge of fixing the economy which experienced a sharp decline in the aftermath of the pandemic lockdown. To address the crisis, he has promised to continue with “Abenomics” – the signature economic policy of his predecessor Shinzo Abe that has been drafted with various structural and fiscal reforms to revive the third-biggest economy in the world.

Regarded as Shinzo Abe’s right-hand man by various experts, Yoshihide Suga has been serving as the Japanese government’s top spokesperson for the past eight years. Suga became the public face of the Shinzo Abe administration in Japan after he was appointed to the influential post of Chief Cabinet Secretary in 2012.

Noting the legislative majority of LDP lawmakers, Suga is most likely to win a parliamentary vote on Wednesday. Once he formally takes over the Japanese leadership through mid-term, he is expected to stay in the post until September 2021, following which fresh general elections of the lower house “Diet” will take place before October 21, 2021.

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