Yoshihide Suga was elected the new head of Japan’s ruling party on Monday, virtually promising that he would become the country’s next prime minister.
Suga received 377 votes in the election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to elect the successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced last month that he would resign due to health issues. The other two contestants received a combined 157 votes – 89 for former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and 68 for former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba.
Abe, the current Abe government’s chief secretary, has won the Suga party vote, promising his election in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday as the Liberal Democrats’ ruling coalition has a majority.
Suga garnered the support of party heavyweights and their wing members on expectations that he would continue Abe’s policies. His victory, which appeared to be a completed deal, drew criticism from within and outside the party that the process was undemocratic and dirty.
Legislators who closed down in the hope of gaining a favorable party and cabinet positions in the new administration have also led legislators to support Suga.
Suga says his main priorities are fighting the coronavirus and revolving around the pandemic-damaged economy. When asked about the various policies, he repeatedly noted the achievements of the Abe-led government.
Despite his low-key image as Abe’s right-hand man, Suga was actually known for his iron-fisted approach in getting jobs as a policy co-ordinator and influencing executives by using the centralized power of the prime minister’s office.
Suga said he was a reformer who worked to overcome the territorial barriers of the bureaucracy and achieve policies. He is credited with efforts to achieve a thriving foreign tourism industry in Japan, reducing cell phone bills and boosting agricultural exports.
Compared to his political skills at home, Suga did not go abroad, and his diplomatic skills are unknown, although he is widely expected to follow Abe’s priorities.
In addition to the coronavirus and the economic collapse, Suga stands to inherit many other challenges, including China continuing its visionary actions in the East China Sea. He will also have to decide what to do with the Tokyo Olympics, which have been postponed to next summer due to the coronavirus. Whoever wins the US presidential race must have a good relationship.