Japan parliament elects Yoshihide Suga as new prime minister

  • Japan parliament elects Yoshihide Suga as new prime minister

Japan parliament elects Yoshihide Suga as new prime minister

Japan's Yoshihide Suga was voted prime minister by parliament on Wednesday to become the country's first new leader in almost eight years, appointing a new cabinet that kept about half of the familiar faces from predecessor Shinzo Abe's lineup.

Mr Suga said he will appoint "reform-minded, hard-working people" to the new Cabinet, with about half of the members from the Abe Cabinet expected to be retained or shifted to different ministerial posts.

Suga was born in 1948 and graduated from Hosei University in 1973 and obtained a Bachelor of Laws.

Suga, the son of a strawberry farmer, won the leadership contest of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday by 377 votes out of 534 votes.

Senior figures including Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Finance Minister Taro Aso are expected to stay on in their jobs.

Abe attended his final cabinet meeting on Tuesday, making an impassioned statement on his time leading the nation as lawmakers prepare for a vote to confirm a new premier.

Just two women are so far reported to be in the cabinet, as Olympic minister and justice minister.

Abe's younger brother, Nobuo Kishi, was handed the defence portfolio, while outgoing Defence Minister Taro Kono takes charge of administrative reform, a post he has held before.

"In order to overcome the crisis and give the Japanese people a sense of relief, we need to succeed in what Prime Minister Abe has been implementing", Suga said after being elected LDP leader on Monday.

"In the longer term, because foreign investors' interest in Japanese stocks has been low, if he presses ahead with structural reforms and deregulations, that is a theme investors like and would be a positive surprise", Niihara added.

In a move that resonates with voters, Suga has criticised Japan's top three mobile phone carriers, NTT Docomo Inc, KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp, saying they should return more money to the public and face more competition.

Suga, who does not belong to any wing within the party and opposes factionalism, says he is a reformer who will break down vested interests and rules that hamper reforms.

He has said he will pursue Abe's unfinished policies, and that his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around an economy battered by the pandemic.