Yoshihide Suga wins party vote for Japan prime minister

Clay Curtis
September 14, 2020

He has presented himself as the best continuity candidate for political stability, stressing that his experience of having been heavily involved in policymaking and bureaucratic matters since he was named chief cabinet secretary in December 2012, when Mr Abe took office.

The expected victory in the party vote by Suga, now the chief Cabinet secretary of Abe's government, all but guarantees his election in a parliamentary vote Wednesday because of the majority held by the Liberal Democrats' ruling coalition.

As widely expected, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's chief cabinet secretary defeated former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. He repeatedly has noted achievements under the Abe-led government when asked about various policies. "And of course I will consult with (Abe)", Suga said.

Abe's right-hand man for almost eight years won the support of the LDP's two largest factions - Abe's 98-member Hosoda faction and the group led by Finance Minister Taro Aso.

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The expected victory in the party vote by Suga, now the chief Cabinet secretary, all but guarantees his election in a parliamentary vote because of the majority held by the Liberal Democrats' ruling coalition.

Mr Suga inherits an economy in recession, as well as other pressing issues such as an ageing population and a low birth rate, exemplified by the fact that his own hometown, Yuzawa city in Akita prefecture, is hollowing out. He also will have to decide what to do with the Tokyo Olympics, which were pushed back to next summer due to the coronavirus.

LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai was among the faction leaders who declared support for Suga early on, and the party's largest faction led by Hiroyuki Hosoda, a former secretary general, with 98 members followed, setting the course for Suga to become the next leader of Japan. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whoever wins the US presidential race.

"Suga has demonstrated influence in domestic policies, but his diplomatic skills are unknown", said Yu Uchiyama, a University of Tokyo politics professor.

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