Posted September 8, 2020 1:29 pm by

Japan ruling party launches race for Abe’s successor

Tokyo, Japan, Sep 8 – Japan’s ruling party on Tuesday kicked off the race to pick Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s successor, with his powerful right-hand man Yoshihide Suga commanding an all-but-insurmountable lead.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, the 71-year-old son of a strawberry farmer, has already secured the support of major factions in the Liberal Democratic Party ahead of its leadership vote on September 14.

But he isn’t running unchallenged, with a popular former defence minister and the party’s policy chief standing against him.

Thanks to the LDP’s solid legislative majority, the race’s winner is certain to win a parliamentary vote on September 16 and be named the country’s next prime minister.

The LDP race began after Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, abruptly announced late August that he would resign for health reasons.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is considered the frontrunner in the race to become Japan’s next prime minister © POOL/AFP/File / Du Xiaoyi

There is now speculation that the next prime minister may quickly call a snap election to shore up public support.

Representatives for Suga and his rivals — former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba and party policy chief Fumio Kishida — formally registered their candidacies on Tuesday morning.

At a joint event for the candidates, Suga said he had decided to run to help avoid a “political vacuum” after Abe’s departure, and that he would prioritise coronavirus containment while rebuilding an economy now in recession.

Ishiba meanwhile pledged a “great reset”, and said he would “pour my whole body and soul into regional revitalisation”.

Kishida said he too would focus on balancing infection measures with kickstarting the economy, and vowed to build a capable team.

“I would become a leader who does not seek to shine myself but to have each team member shine so as to have the best performance,” he said.

The candidates will hold two public debates before the vote, which will poll LDP lawmakers and three party representatives from each of Japan’s 47 regions.

A broader vote including rank-and-file party members was ruled out, with officials saying it would take too long to organise.

– ‘A regular person like me’ –

Whoever takes the top office will face a raft of challenges — from the coronavirus pandemic and a tanking economy to ensuring the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games can go ahead.

Japan ruling party launches race for Abe’s successor

Abe announced his shock plans to resign in late August, saying he was suffering a Read More…Japan ruling party launches race for Abe’s successor  Japan ruling party launches race for Abe’s successor  Japan ruling party launches race for Abe’s successor  Japan ruling party launches race for Abe’s successor