Yoshihide Suga set to become Japan’s next PM

15 Septembre, 2020, 18:55 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Reuters

A big screen in Osaka's Umeda commercial district shows Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga's election as Liberal Democratic Party president to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on September 14, 2020. He announced his plans to resign due to health problems on August 28.

According to the Japan Times, the new ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader is expected to become the new PM because the party holds a comfortable majority in the lower house of parliament. The other two contenders received a combined 157 votes.

Experts say Suga is pragmatic rather than ideological, and he is seen by lawmakers along the political spectrum within the LDP as a neutral figure.

© Provided by The Guardian Young women take selfies as a large screen broadcasts Yoshihide Suga unveiling "Reiwa" as the new era name in Tokyo, Japan, April 2019.

But since announcing his candidacy at the end of August, he has undergone a modest image change, from inscrutable political enforcer whose most memorable public act to date was announcing the name of the new Reiwa era a year ago, to the closest Japan's dominant conservative party has to the man on the Tokyo omnibus.

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Mr Suga, however, has made no secret of the fact that he comes from more humble origins: he is the son of a strawberry farmer and a teacher from a small rural city Yuzawa, in Japan's northern prefecture Akita. He added that he entered politics "starting from zero - and have been able to become leader of the LDP, with all its traditions and history".

He noted, "Where there is a will, there is a way". Abe, on the other hand, is a third-generation politician and the grandson of a former prime minister. He also has defended scores of favoritism and cronyism scandals, saying that investigations into the cases were properly handled. He has said all accusations were fully investigated.

On the surface, the straight-faced Suga is known for offering bland comments at twice-daily televised news briefings. In reality, he has a dictatorial approach to getting jobs done. Some bureaucrats who have opposed his policies have reportedly been removed from projects or transferred elsewhere. He gained the support of party heavyweights and their wing members early in the campaign on expectations that he would continue Abe's policies. That is a policy of using government spending and readily available money to help the economy.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin congratulated Suga and expressed willingness "to deepen cooperation in the fight against the epidemic and economic and social development, and continuously promote improvement and development of China-Japan relations". He is expected to continue many of Abe's foreign policies. He said he wanted to solve the issue of Japanese nationals captured by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s. The games were pushed back to next summer because of the coronavirus. And he will have to build a relationship with whoever wins the US presidential race.

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