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Profiles of Contenders in the Race for New Japanese Prime Minister

September 2, 2020, 10.06 PM

TOKYO, – Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party confirmed that it will vote on a successor to replace Shinzo Abe on September 14 following his resignation.

Due to worsening health conditions, the Japanese Prime Minister announced he was stepping down on August 28.

With the leadership race in the world’s third-largest economy on, there are three strong contenders expected to face off in the polls.

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

Yoshihide Suga

Yoshihide Suga is the frontrunner after years as a close advisor to Abe and a powerful role overseeing policy.

His job as chief cabinet secretary involves coordinating between ministries and agencies, as well as being the government's top spokesman.

While the role has been a stepping stone to the leadership in the past, 71-year-old Suga claimed repeatedly before Abe's resignation that he was not interested in the top job.

Read also: A Successor Emerges to Replace Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

A self-made lawmaker in a party of hereditary politicians, Suga was raised in northern Japan, the eldest son of a strawberry farmer.

He moved to the capital after high school and worked odd jobs to put himself through night college, before being elected in 1987 as a municipal assembly member in Yokohama outside Tokyo. He won a lower house seat in 1996.

The pragmatic politician is seen as a neutral figure within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. And while he does not command a faction within the party, several of its most powerful have thrown their support behind him.

Suga's spokesman role has given him little chance to express his own views, but his somewhat anodyne image got a reboot last year when he announced the name of the new imperial era: Reiwa.

The image of him holding the hand-drawn calligraphy for the name earned him the affectionate nickname "Uncle Reiwa".

Shigeru Ishiba


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