Yoshihide Suga: Japan’s newest PM, succeeding Shinzo Abe

After being the longest-serving cabinet secretary and a loyal ally to Shinzo Abe (former Prime Minister), Yoshihide Suga has been confirmed as Japan’s 99th Prime Minister. The country’s lower house of the parliament elected him as PM, receiving 314 votes out of 462, though it had been pre-decided in backroom deals. Abe had resigned from the office owing to health issues.

The 71-year-old will be ceremonially sworn in by the emperor and the Imperial Palace, along with his cabinet.

Japan's PM Shinzo Abe quits, Yoshihide Suga to take office
Shinzo Abe (left) with Yoshihide Suga. Suga is also known as Abe’s right hand.

“Mr. Suga’s election assures the continuity in all the major policy initiatives launched by Shinzo Abe. What will be the greatest test for him is how well he fares as the public face of the Japanese government,” said Yuki Tatsumi, director of the Washington-based Stimson Center’s Japan program.

What we know about the new Prime Minister

The politician belongs to a humble background, setting him apart from his predecessors. He was born in Akita Prefecture, in a family of strawberry farmers.

By the age of 38, Suga had entered politics and had secured a seat in the National Parliament within a decade. He was appointed as the cabinet minister in 2005.

Political leaders across the world sent a message of support to the newly elected PM.


Challenges lying ahead

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major economic collapse in Japan. This issue has been taken up as a priority by the PM. He will also be starting the implementation of his own initiatives, which include improvement of policies on agriculture, bureaucratic reform, and digitalization.

He will be carrying on the economic reform program, which is a broad policy framework given by Abe, known as Abenomics.

“Nobody has had as long a tenure as Suga,” said Kiyoaki Aburaki, managing director of BowerGroup Asia. “He knows everything. He knows how government works. He knows how sectionalism has previously prevented change. That is a great asset for him.”

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Source: The Daily Beast

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