Japan's new prime minister is named after Shinzo Abe steps down

Yoshihide Suga became prime minister of Japan in a ceremony today.

Yoshihide Suga was voted in by the parliament to succeed ‘longtime ally’ Shinzo Abe who stepped down for health reasons.

Abe, 65, had led the country since 2012 but handed over the reigns to Suga, who is from the same party – the Liberal Democratic Party.

Suga, 71, easily won a poll for prime minister in the Diet, Japan’s lower house, receiving 314 out of 462 votes.

Suga – the son of a strawberry farmer – held the important position of chief cabinet secretary since 2012, acting as the government’s top spokesperson, among other roles.

A veteran politician and long-time cabinet member he takes the lead at a difficult time for the world’s third-largest economy which is suffering from the devastating effects of the coronavirus.

He is expected to push forward with his own initiatives, including bureaucratic reform, digitalisation, and helping Japan’s rural communities through policies on agriculture and tourism.

The former Chief Cabinet Secretary and Abe loyalist appointed a new cabinet shortly after he became prime minister, keeping about half of the familiar faces from his predecessor’s lineup.

“Nobody has had as long a tenure as Suga,” Kiyoaki Aburaki, managing director of BowerGroup Asia in Tokyo.

“He knows everything. He knows how government works. He knows how sectionalism has previously prevented change. That is a great asset for him.”

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