Long-time cabinet member Yoshihide Suga was elected as the new Prime Minister by the Japanese parliament, replacing Shinzo Abe, who resigned last month due to ill health.
The 71-year-old Suga received 314 out of 462 votes in the Diet, the lower house of Japanese parliament, in which his ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party holds a majority with its coalition partner.
A veteran in politics, Suga had held the position of the Cabinet Secretary, which is the most senior role in government after the prime minister.
Suga, the 99th Prime Minister of the island nation, has been elected at a time when Japan, the world’s third biggest economy, is facing a massive economic crisis – its economy dwindled by a record 27.8 percent from April to June this year. Also, it is grappling with a rapidly ageing population with close to one-third of its population over the age of 65.
The outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held his last cabinet meeting on 16th September and thanked the public for their support.
“I’m indebted to all the people and I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. … I’d like to ask you all for your strong support and understanding for the Suga Cabinet,” Abe said.
Who is Yoshihide Suga?
Unlike many of his counterparts, Suga does not come from an elite family. Rather, he belongs to a humble background and is the son of strawberry farmers. His rise within the political ranks has been slow – he started off serving as a secretary for a lawmaker from the Liberal Democratic Party. Subsequently, he entered politics and finally became a member of the Diet in 1996.
He became a cabinet minister under Junichiro Koizumi in 2005. Since the Shinzo Abe government was elected, he gained further influence, becoming the chief spokesperson for the government by heading news conferences. Widely known as the right-hand man of Abe, Suga is known for his insight into the intricacies of Japan’s bureaucracy and for his efficiency and practicality in dealing with political matters.