Tokyo: Yoshihide Suga (71) was elected president of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Monday, making him all but certain to become prime minister of the world’s third-largest economy later this week.
According to an AsiaNikkei report, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Chief Cabinet Secretary defeated former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Suga took 377 of 534 votes, with Kishida way back in second on 89. Ishiba came last with 68 votes.
“We cannot have any void in policy,” Suga reportedly said after the vote. “It is my mission to carry forward what has been done under Prime Minister Abe. I want to create a government that people can trust. I will push ahead with deregulation and put an end to ministry sectionalism, endemic vested interests and the practice of blindly following past precedents. I will create a working cabinet.”
Reportedly, Abe’s right-hand man for nearly eight years won the support of the LDP’s two largest factions – Abe’s 98-member Hosoda faction and the group led by Finance Minister Taro Aso. The 47-strong group led by LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai was the first to declare for Suga.
Also, Suga is a rare party leader who does not belong to any faction. Kishida, Abe’s protege, was seen as a weak challenger to Ishiba, who is popular with the public.
Earlier, Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, announced his resignation on August 28 on health grounds.