By Agency Reporter
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, a loyal aide to outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is certain to succeed him.
On Monday, the 71 year-old Suga won a landslide victory in a ruling party leadership election.
He requires parliamentary approval to replace Abe this week.
Suga, 71, who has said he will pursue Abe’s key economic and foreign policies, won 377 votes out of 534 votes cast, and 535 possible votes, in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) election by the party’s members of parliament and representatives of its 47 local chapters.
Rival Shigeru Ishiba, a former defence minister, won 68 votes and ex-foreign minister Fumio Kishida got 89.
Suga is virtually certain to be elected prime minister in the parliamentary vote on Wednesday because of the LDP’s majority in the lower house. He will serve out Abe’s term as party leader through September 2021.
Suga thanked Abe and vowed to push ahead with reforms. Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, said last month that he would resign because of ill health, ending nearly eight years in office.
“I was born as the oldest son of a farmer in Akita,” Suga said.
“Without any knowledge or blood ties, I launched into the world of politics, starting from zero – and have been able to become leader of the LDP, with all its traditions and history.”
“I will devote all of myself to work for Japan and its citizens,” he added.
Suga has said he would continue Abe’s signature “Abenomics” strategy of hyper-easy monetary policy, government spending and reforms while juggling the problems of COVID-19 and a slumping economy, and confronting longer-term issues such as Japan’s ageing population and low birth rate.
Japanese manufacturers remained pessimistic for a 14th straight month in September, a Reuters poll showed, underlining the huge challenge the next leader faces.
Suga, whose resume is thin on diplomatic experience, faces geopolitical challenges such as building ties with the winner of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election and balancing concern over China’s maritime aggressiveness with bilateral economic