Yoshihide Suga, the new ruler of Japan, is set to invest in the prime minister on Wednesday to replace Shinzo Abe, who is resigning for health reasons.
Forty-eight hours after his triumphant election at the head of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), Yoshihide Suga (71), will be appointed Prime Minister of Japan’s parliament on Wednesday, September 16. His dubbing is without a doubt: his formation and his coalition alliance, the Komeito Party, have a comfortable majority in both houses of the diet.
A simple majority vote is required to elect the Prime Minister. The vote is scheduled for early afternoon, following the departure of a group this morning by the Shinzo Abe government. The latter withdraws for health reasons.
Yoshihide Suga has been Secretary General and Government Spokesman since Shinzo Abe returned to power in late 2012. Son of a strawberry grower with an atypical career, he served and advised Shinzo Abe faithfully for many years, coordinating policies between governments and many agencies. As such, he knows all the cogs in the powerful Japanese bureaucracy, but does not have the international standing of Shinzo Abe.
Guarantee for stability
Yoshihide Suga has promised to continue the policy of his predecessor and thus provide guarantees for stability to the barons of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), who voted for him in the party’s internal elections on Monday.
The composition of his new government should not come as a big surprise. Key figures from the former team are expected to retain their posts, such as veteran Taro Aso (finance) and Toshimitsu Motegi (foreign affairs). In defense, Taro Kono would be replaced by Nobuo Kishi, who is none other than Shinzo Abe’s brother but bears the surname of his grandfather, Japan’s Prime Minister in the late 1950s.
Taro Kono would inherit the administrative reform portfolio, which Yoshihide Suga considers a priority. The name of the outgoing Minister of Health, Katsunobu Kato, is circulating to succeed Yoshihide Suga in the strategic post of Secretary General of the Government.
Among the major projects awaiting the Suga government are the coronavirus crisis, the economic recession, the sensitive issue of whether the Tokyo Olympics will be held or not, postponed until the summer of 2021 and the consequences of international tensions, especially between Washington and Beijing.
More pragmatic than dogmatic
Yoshihide Suga is seen as a more pragmatic than a dogmatic leader. During the PLD’s short internal election campaign, he insisted on the need to break down the silos of the Japanese public administration rather than proposing a major political vision.
Observers expect him to pursue Shinzo Abe’s economic policies, which are particularly marked by extremely accommodating monetary policies and massive fiscal stimulus, while the faster structural reforms deemed necessary.
Some senior PLD officials are in favor of holding early legislative elections to consolidate Yoshihide Suga’s legitimacy and extend the term beyond what was originally planned for Shinzo Abe in the fall of 2021. But for now, Yoshihide Suga has ruled that such an election was not a priority and argued that it would be difficult to organize such a vote as long as the coronavirus pandemic is not under control.