Yoshihide Suga set to become Japan’s next PM

  • Yoshihide Suga set to become Japan’s next PM

Yoshihide Suga set to become Japan’s next PM

Nothing short of force majeure will prevent Yoshihide Suga from becoming Japan's prime minister when the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) elects a leader to replace Shinzo Abe this week.

Japanese Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai meets the press in Tokyo on September 14, 2020, after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was elected the ruling party's president to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day.

Disciplined, focused, pragmatic - and masterfully skilled at bureaucratic wrangling - Mr Suga, 71, is well established in Japan as a powerful policy coordinator, advisor and all-round right-hand man of the outgoing prime minister Shinzo Abe. Suga, the son of a strawberry grower, said in his victory speech: "I will devote all of myself to work for the nation and the people". 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". Abe, on the other hand, is a third-generation politician and the grandson of a former prime minister.

When Abe defied the odds and returned to power in 2012, he appointed Suga to the powerful chief cabinet secretary role, from which he is said to have helped push through several landmark Abe policies, including a loosening of restrictions on foreign workers.

Suga gained the support of his party on expectations that he would continue Abe's economic policy known as "Abenomics". He also has defended accusations of favoritism and cronyism in the government. Those who have opposed his policies have found themselves removed from projects or positions.

According to a report in The Mainichi, Suga was relatively unknown until April 2019, when he unveiled the name of the new imperial era that earned him the nickname "Uncle Reiwa".

"Having served as Abe's defender-in chief, Suga can not disown Abe and push through major policy transformation without incurring strong criticism".

He has shown that he will continue pushing for changes in Japan's pacifist constitution.

He also will have to decide what to do with the Tokyo Olympics.

Suga has said he wants to maintain communication and develop strategic ties with China and South Korea despite rocky relations with them. The games were pushed back to next summer because of the coronavirus.

Yoshihide Suga, who is set to become Japan's next prime minister, is considering appointing health minister Katsunobu Kato as Chief Cabinet Secretary while retaining others in key cabinet posts, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whoever wins the USA presidential race.

The Associated Press reported this story. Hai Do was the editor.