Japan’s governing party chooses Shinzo Abe’s successor

Japan's governing party chooses Shinzo Abe's successor
Yoshihide Suga is widely expected to be selected. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: Japan’s governing party is set to vote today on a new leader to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the winner almost certain to be the next prime minister.

Mr Abe announced his resignation last month due to health reasons.

The winner is widely expected to be Yoshihide Suga who serves as chief cabinet secretary in the current administration.

The 71-year-old is considered a close ally of Mr Abe and likely to continue his predecessor’s policies.

Once the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has chosen its new leader, there will be another vote in parliament on Wednesday, where he is almost certain to be made prime minister because of the LDP’s majority.

The new prime minister is expected to finish the rest of the current period, until elections in September 2021.

Who is Yoshihide Suga?

Born the son of strawberry farmers, he is a veteran politician.

Given his central role as chief cabinet secretary in the administration, he is expected to provide continuity heading an interim government until the 2021 election.

Koichi Nakano, dean and political science professor at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said: “Shinzo Abe and the other party bosses picked and joined the bandwagon for Mr Suga precisely because he was the best ‘continuity’ candidate, someone who they think could continue Abe government without Abe.”

While not considered the most passionate or energetic politician, Mr Suga has a reputation of being very efficient and practical.

One of Mr Suga’s most prominent appearances recently was during the transition from past emperor Akihito to the current one Naruhito in 2019. It fell to Mr Suga to unveil the name of the new Reiwa era to the Japanese and global public.

Yet while he is the favourite to clinch the party’s leadership after Shinzo Abe’s resignation, it is is much less clear whether he will lead the party in next year’s general election.

You may read: Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe resigns for health reasons