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Japan’s Suga wins the party leadership race for prime minister



TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, a loyal aide to outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, won a landslide victory in a ruling party election on Monday, paving the way for the Japanese first shift. leaders in almost eight years.

Suga, 71, who has vowed to continue Abes’s key policies, said his big victory would give him the support to pursue his reform goals – including disrupting and breaking down bureaucratic silos – and that the content of the new coronavirus and the revival of the economy were the conditions for calling an early general election.

“While I have received great support in numbers today, the environment in which I can pursue my policy agenda in a sustainable manner is ensured,” Suga told a news conference.

Suga won 377 votes out of 534 cast votes cast and 535 possible votes, in the leadership elections by members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) parliament and representatives of its 47 local chapters.

Rival Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister, won 68 votes and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida 89.

Suga is virtually certain to be elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote Wednesday because of the LDP’s lower house majority. He will serve during Abes’ term as party leader until September 2021.

Suga had emerged as the vanguard after Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister, said last month he would resign due to ill health, completing nearly eight years in office.

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There is speculation that Suga will call elections for the lower house of parliament as soon as next month to boost his chances of winning a full three-year term as LDP chief next year. A vote for the chamber should be held by the end of October 2021.


But Aso sounded a cautious note.

What is important now is to contain the pandemic while also reviving the economy. I do not think we can immediately (disperse the lower room) just because it contains pandemics, Suga said. This is a decision that has to be made considering different factors.

Suga has said he will continue the Abes Abenomics signatory strategy of incredibly easy monetary policy, government spending and reforms while manipulating COVID-19 problems and a weakened economy and tackling longer-term issues such as the aging of the Japanese and low birth rate.

Japanese manufacturers remained pessimistic for the 14th consecutive month in September, a Reuters poll showed, highlighting the challenges ahead.

Suga, who has little diplomatic experience, faces geopolitical challenges such as building ties with the US presidential election winner and balancing concerns over Chinas’ maritime aggression with bilateral economic interdependence.

The son of a strawberry farmer from northern Japan, Suga has been the chief cabinet secretary since 2012, acting as the Abes government chief spokesman, coordinating policies and keeping bureaucrats in line.

I was born as the eldest son of a farmer in Akita. Without any knowledge or blood ties, I started in the world of politics, starting from scratch – and I was able to become the leader of the LDP, with all its traditions and history, said Suga, whose modest background varies greatly LDP lawmakers.

I will dedicate myself all to work for Japan and its citizens, he said after the party vote.

His image is more like a behind-the-scenes operator than a front-line leader, but he rose in opinion polls after announcing his candidacy to succeed Abe. He gained support from most LDP factions and gained strong support from local LDP chapters.

The business daily Nikkei reported that Suga plans to reappoint Taro Aso, the leader of the party’s second-largest faction, as deputy prime minister and finance minister, the same posts Aso currently holds.

Additional reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Chris Gallagher and Anthony Slodkowski; Edited by William Mallard, Lincoln Feast, Gerry Doyle and Timothy Heritage

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