Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is a close confidante of outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been elected new president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
He will succeed Abe on Wednesday.
In a parliamentary party vote on Monday, Suga was elected the new LDP chief winning a significant majority of 377 votes from lawmakers and regional representatives.
Two other candidates – former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida – received votes in two digits.
Suga, 71, is on course to be elected as prime minister at an extraordinary session of the Diet on Wednesday.
LDP has majority in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber. The party also holds upper hand in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber, with its coalition partner Komeito.
Addressing a meeting of LDP lawmakers of both chambers of parliament, the top government spokesman pledged to carry on Abe’s policies and reforms, including his package of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reform.
Suga indicated that his government will proceed with deregulation.
He pledged to bring reform-minded people into Cabinet from various factions.
“I’ll create a Cabinet that works for people.”
Regarding dissolution of the lower house, he said it will be difficult unless the coronavirus pandemic ends.
“We must inherit and promote the efforts that Prime Minister Abe has made so that people can overcome the crisis and live a safe and stable life,” he said, referring to the pandemic.
After ruling the country for nearly nine years, Shinzo Abe announced his resignation last month citing the recurrence of a health issue.
He is undergoing treatment for colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease.
Abe, who became Japan’s youngest post-war Prime Minister at the age of 52, is currently serving his fourth term.
His aggressive economic experiment known as “Abenomics” helped revive the Japanese economy and build up consumer and investor confidence.
Abe, who is the longest-serving Prime Minister in Japanese history, revealed his intention to resign a year ahead of completing his fourth term.
Taking over mid-term, Suga’s tenure in the top post will be limited to September 2021, that will be followed by the general election.
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