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September 30, 2021, 02.59 PM – Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Wednesday elected 64-year-old Fumio Kishida as its new leader. On October 4, parliament will elect him as the nation's prime minister, according to Deutsche Welle (DW).

Kishida, who will become Japan’s 100th prime minister since the country adopted a Cabinet system in 1885, succeeds Yoshihide Suga, who did not run for reelection as party leader. His popularity plummeted following sharp criticism of his pandemic management.

Kishida owes his election victory to the LDP's "old guard," such as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and present Finance Minister Taro Aso, who wield vast amounts of behind-the-scenes power.

They supported Kishida to prevent the popular minister for vaccines and reform, Taro Kono, from becoming premier. They view Kono as too middle-of-the-road — or even progressive — in many of his policies, which deviate too much from their conservative line.

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Kishida also belongs to the LDP establishment, which has ruled Japan almost without interruption since 1955.

He comes from a political dynasty, with both his father and grandfather serving in parliament. Kishida himself has been a member of the legislature since 1993 and heads his own party faction that includes 46 members of parliament.

Most recently, he was chairman of the Political Research Council, holding one of the three highest party posts. Nevertheless, he is a stronger advocate for change than his predecessor Suga.

Turning away from neoliberalism?

When it comes to economic policy, Kishida says he wants to continue the economic reforms, known as “Abenomics,” initiated by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, focusing on expansionary monetary and fiscal policies.


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