Yoshihide Suga has been elected as the new leader by Japan’s ruling party (LDP) to replace Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister. He resigned last month, citing potential health issues that are impacting his decision making in the office.
When Mr. Abe declared his resignation, he apologized to the Japanese people for not finishing his term. The 65-year-old has been fighting ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel illness, for many years and said the condition has recently got worse and forced him to resign.
Mr. Abe, who became Japan’s longtime Prime Minister last year, was forced to retire from his current term which was to end in September next year. It’s not the first time, Mr. Abe has resigned from the office. In 2007 he resigned, citing the same problem.
The potential successor, Mr. Suga, is only a few centimeters away from claiming the position. The 71-year-old served as cabinet secretary in the current administration and his chances of winning were very high as he was a close ally of Mr. Abe. Many think that he will continue with Mr. Abe’s guidelines.
The journey to the next Prime Minister began after he won the votes as the new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). He won by a large margin after collecting 377 votes out of 534.
The only remaining journey is to win the parliamentary vote, which is scheduled for this Wednesday. It doesn’t sound like a mountain to climb either, as the LDP is more popular in parliament. So it is certain that he will be the next Japanese Prime Minister.
Mr. Suga will lead the current term to the end if he wins the parliamentary votes.
The experienced politician was born of strawberry farmers and, with his current role in the administration as chief cabinet secretary, will ensure continuity of the current administrative till the next elections in 2021.
According to the dean and professor of political science who works at Sophia University in Tokyo, Mr. Suga was selected because he was the best continuity candidate.
He may not be the most energetic or passionate politician, but he has a reputation for being very efficient and practical.
Mr. Sugar is not such a prominent leader. His last and most prominent appearance was when he was commissioned to reveal the name of the new Reiwa era to the Japanese and global public during the transition from Emperor Akihito to current Emperor Naruhito.
Although he was the favorite to take on the LDP leadership after Mr. Abe’s resignation, it remains unclear whether he will continue to lead the party in the 2021 election and beyond.
Many think that the party dynamic might change and elect a more vibrant person who can reach and attract a wider general electorate.
There were other contenders for the post as well. Among them was the Fumio Kishida, who served as Foreign Minister under Shinzo Abe. Fumio headed the party’s political research council. Unlike Mr. Suga, Fumio is known to have more international diplomatic experience, despite not having the support of the outgoing Prime Minister.
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