Published: Wed, September 16, 2020

Japan's Parliament elects Yoshihide Suga as new prime minister

Japan's Parliament elects Yoshihide Suga as new prime minister

Japan's parliament votes Wednesday for the country's next prime minister, with powerful cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga all but assured the top job, as Shinzo Abe ends his record-breaking tenure.

Defence Minister Taro Kono will be replaced by Abe's brother Nobuo Kishi, who was adopted by his uncle as a child and carries his surname.

Mr Suga had been chosen as leader of the ruling party on Monday (local time), virtually assuring his succession.

Suga, a 71-year-old politician who holds a role in the current administration as chief Cabinet secretary, is expected to pursue his predecessor's "Abenomics" policies and is now the front-runner in the prime minister race.

Mr Suga has stressed his background as a farmer's son and a self-made politician while promising to serve the interests of ordinary people and rural communities.

He has said he will pursue Abe's unfinished policies, and that his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around an economy battered by the pandemic.

Katsunobu Kato, outgoing health minister and a close Suga ally, takes on the challenging post of chief cabinet secretary.


Hashimoto and Yoko Kamikawa are the only Cabinet ministers who are women.

He is viewed as more pragmatic than ideological, and during his campaign spoke more about the need to break down administrative obstacles - so-called bureaucratic silos - than any grand political guiding principles. More of the same, he says.

Suga has pledged to push forward with Abe's policies including "Abenomics", a mix of measures aimed at beating deflation and spurring growth in the world's third-largest economy.

While reiterating USA appreciation for Abe's years of effort in championing the bilateral alliance, a State Department spokesperson said in a statement, "We are watching the process of selecting a new prime minister with great interest". For key Cabinet posts, Suga chose Taro Aso as finance minister, Toshimitsu Motegi as foreign minister and Yasutoshi Nishimura as minister in charge of economic revitalisation and the government's coronavirus response.

He will also take over a sweeping review of Japan's national security policy that was initiated by Abe after plans to introduce a US -developed missile defense system were scrapped due to technical issues.

"I extend my congratulations to Prime Minister Suga and the Japanese people", he added. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whomever wins the USA presidential race.

Abe will stay on as a lawmaker, with some mooting the possibility he could undertake diplomatic missions.

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