The new chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan, Yoshihide Suga, was approved as prime minister on Wednesday. His candidacy was supported by a majority of deputies from the key lower house of parliament, which, according to the constitution, has the decisive word in electing the head of government. The vote was broadcast live on the legislature’s website.
Suga achieved the election with confidence: 314 out of 462 deputies of the lower chamber voted for him. He also received a majority of votes in the upper house. In the next few hours, Suga should announce the composition of his cabinet. Most of the key posts are expected to remain with ministers from Shinzo Abe’s last government.
In particular, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Finance Minister Taro Aso, Minister of State Lands, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Kazuyoshi Aqaba, as well as the minister responsible for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Seiko Hashimoto, and Economic Recovery Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura will retain their portfolios.
Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama, who is responsible in the government for developing economic ties with Russia, will also be re-appointed.
As for the head of the Defense Ministry, Taro Kono, he will step down and be replaced by Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s younger brother, and former deputy foreign minister. Kono was to be appointed Minister of Administrative Affairs and Communications, but eventually, they decided to give him the post of State Minister responsible for public service reforms. Abe said on August 28 that he wanted to resign due to deteriorating health conditions. His ulcer colitis worsened, which also forced him to resign from the post of prime minister in 2007. At the same time, Abe emphasized that he was not going to appoint an acting prime minister, but was planning to stay in office until a replacement candidate was selected.
At the LDP Congress held in Tokyo on Monday, Suga was elected as its new chairman by an absolute majority of votes. Suga has consistently served as Cabinet Secretary-General in Abe governments since 2012. According to the party charter, he will hold that position until the end of September 2021, when the term of office of the resigning Abe expires. After that, a new election of chairman will be held for a standard three-year term.