Suga to reshuffle LDP leadership, retain Nikai as secretary general

Abe’s ‘loyal right-hand man’ Yoshihide Suga chosen by ruling party to succeed him as Japan’s PM

Newly elected leader of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference at the party's headquarters in Tokyo, September 14, 2020. Suga's victory virtually guarantees his election in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday because of the majority held by the LDP's ruling coalition.

Media reports said early vote counting of local representatives Monday indicated Suga had an overwhelming lead over the two other contenders - former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

Suga's political fortunes have been closely tied to Abe since he won a lower house seat in 1996, and many cite him as the main influence in Abe's decision to run for prime minister a second time following a first period in office that ended disastrously after just a year.

Suga has also promised to continue his predecessor's economic policy "Abenomics" that focused on Japan's economic revival and combined structural reform, monetary easing and fiscal expansion, with the goal to increase domestic demand.

On the surface, the straight-faced Suga is known for offering bland comments at twice-daily televised news briefings.

While during his days as a student, Suga showed little interest in the student protests against the security alliance between Japan and the U.S. and the Vietnam War, he gradually became interested in politics and successfully ran for the Yokohama city assembly in 1987 and entered national politics in 1996. He served as the government's spokesman and chief cabinet secretary.

© Provided by The Guardian Young women take selfies as a large screen broadcasts Yoshihide Suga unveiling "Reiwa" as the new era name in Tokyo, Japan, April 2019.

When Abe defied the odds and returned to power in 2012, he appointed Suga to the powerful chief cabinet secretary role, from which he is said to have helped push through several landmark Abe policies, including a loosening of restrictions on foreign workers. He also says he seeks to build a nation of "self-support, mutual support then public support", raising concerns of having a vision of a government that is cold to the weak and the needy. Others think he will last longer. "I think he has a more holistic view of politics and the government than maybe a lot of people who have occupied the post of prime minister", Harris said.

Compared to his political skills at home, Suga has hardly travelled overseas, and his diplomatic skills are unknown, though he is largely expected to pursue Abe's priorities.

He also will have to decide what to do with the Tokyo Olympics. He said he wanted to solve the issue of Japanese nationals captured by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whoever wins the USA presidential race.



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