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A Successor Emerges to Replace Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

August 30, 2020, 06.13 PM

TOKYO, – Yoshihide Suga has emerged as a strong contender to succeed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following his abrupt resignation.

Yoshihide Suga is a longtime lieutenant of Abe.

The possible appointment of Suga as the successor would likely see the continuation of the fiscal and monetary stimulus that defined the Japanese Prime Minister’s nearly eight years in office.

Shinzo Abe is Japan’s longest-serving premier and had to step down from his position due to a worsening chronic illness.

Read also: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Resign Citing Health Problems

The announcement came on Friday has thus set the stage for a leadership election within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

While some other would-be successors have declared their intention to run, the 71-year-old Suga has said he doesn't want the job.

But such comments have been called into question by an aggressive media push in recent days that put him squarely in the public eye.

"They are really going to try to get Suga to replace Abe and continue the Abe government without Abe," said Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Suga stressed the need to spur economic growth over tightening restrictions to contain the virus, pointing to the need to promote tourism.

Read also: Reviving Asia-Pacific Tourism is Touch and Go amid Coronavirus Pandemic

"We need to consider what we can do to prevent the economy from falling off a cliff," Suga said at his parliamentary office, where a large photograph of him standing next to US President Donald Trump was on display.

The interview, in which Suga again denied he wanted the job, was part of the publicity blitz before Abe announced his resignation, in which he gave interviews to at least four major news organisations.

A self-made politician, Suga was chosen by Abe in 2012 for the pivotal role of Chief Cabinet Secretary, acting as top government spokesman, coordinating policies and riding herd on bureaucrats.

The winner of the LDP vote, which domestic media said could be held around September 15, is virtually ensured the premiership because of the party's majority in parliament.


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