Yoshihide Suga will become Japan's first new PM in eight years.
Yoshihide Suga has been elected as Japan's new Prime Minister, after Shinzo Abe's resignation.
Suga, the former chief cabinet secretary, will become the country's first new PM in eight years.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Suga on his appointment.
Heartiest congratulations to Excellency Yoshihide Suga on the appointment as Prime Minister of Japan @kantei. I look forward to jointly taking our Special Strategic and Global Partnership to new heights. @sugawitter
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 16, 2020
Suga, 71, won an easy victory, taking 314 votes of 462 valid ballots cast in the lower house of parliament, where his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a commanding majority.
Suga is expected to announce his cabinet later on September 16, with local media reporting he will retain a number of ministers from Abe's last government.
Suga, who on September 15 was elected leader of the LDP, is viewed as a continuity candidate and has said his run was inspired by a desire to pursue Abe's policies.
Abe, who resigned earlier on September 16 along with his cabinet, is ending his record run in office with a year left in his mandate.
He was forced out by a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, a bowel disease that has long plagued him.
Suga has spent decades in politics -- most recently as chief cabinet secretary, where he was known for pushing government policies through a sometimes intractable bureaucracy.
He has also been the face of the government, doggedly defending its policies as spokesman, including in sometimes testy exchanges with journalists.
His upbringing, as the son of a strawberry-farmer father and schoolteacher mother, sets him apart from the many blue-blood political elites in his party and the Japanese political scene.
But while he has championed some measures intended to help rural areas like his hometown in northern Japan's Akita, his political views remain something of a mystery.
He is viewed as more pragmatic than ideological, and during his campaign spoke more about the need to break down administrative obstacles -- so-called bureaucratic silos -- than any grand guiding principles.
He will face a raft of tough challenges, including an economy that was already in recession before the coronavirus pandemic.
Suga has said kickstarting the economy will be a top priority, along with containing the virus -- essential if the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics are to open as planned in July 2021.(With inputs from AFP)