This expected victory for Yoshihide Suga, currently the chief Cabinet Secretary in Shinzo Abe’s government, virtually guarantees his election as Japan's next prime minister in a parliamentary vote on September 16.
Yoshihide Suga was elected as the new head of Japan’s ruling party on September 14, paving way for him to become the country’s next prime minister.
Suga received 377 votes in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) election held to pick a successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced in August that he would resign due to health problems.
The other contenders -- former Foreign minister Fumio Kishida and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba -- received a combined 157 votes.
The expected victory for Suga, currently the chief Cabinet Secretary of Abe’s government, nearly guarantees his election as the next prime minister in a parliamentary vote on September 16. This is because the Liberal Democrats’ ruling coalition holds majority in the House.
What helped Suga?
Suga gained the support of party heavyweights and their wing members early in the campaign on expectations that he would continue Abe’s policies.
However, some have raised criticism from inside and outside the party that the process of selecting Abe's successor is undemocratic.
Suga, son of strawberry farmers, has said his top priorities are fighting the novel coronavirus and turning around Japan's economy that has been battered by the pandemic.
Often descried as Abe's right-hand man, Suga says he is a reformist and that he has worked to achieve policies by breaking territorial barriers of bureaucracy.
He has been credited efforts in raising minimum wages, achieving a booming foreign tourism industry, lowering cellphone bills and improving agricultural exports.
While he has maintained a low-key image as a policy coordinator and an influential bureaucrat, Suga is well known for his iron-fist approach to getting work done.
Abe, while announcing his resignation, had declined to talk about his successor. Asked about the succession plan, Abe had said he will leave it up to the party and that he will not make any comments about the procedure. He had also declined to endorse any particular person as his successor.