Yoshihide Suga

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was elected as the new president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday, setting him firmly on course to become the country’s next Prime Minister.

Sunga is the right-hand man of outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a vote at a meeting of LDP lawmakers of both chambers of parliament, Suga secured a comfortable victory over his two rivals — Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister, and Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister.

While Suga received 377 votes, Kishida got 89 vote and Ishiba managed to garner 68 votes.

Suga’s election as prime minister at an extraordinary Diet session on Wednesday is almost certain as the governing party controls the House of Representatives, the more powerful lower chamber, and holds a majority in the House of Councillors with its coalition partner Komeito.

The LDP election became a mere formality for endorsing the party factions’ decisions to back Suga, 71.

A total of 394 ballots were given to LDP lawmakers and 141 to delegates of local chapters, while the party’s rank-and-file members were excluded from the vote this time to speed up the process amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The son of a strawberry farmer and a schoolteacher from rural northern Japan, Suga is one of the few leading Japanese lawmakers not from an elite political family, NYT reported.

Charisma is not the first — or even the second or third — word evoked by his public persona.

At 71, he’s even older than Shinzo Abe, who suddenly announced in late August that he was resigning as prime minister because of ill health.

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