Anything less than Force Majeure Yoshihide will prevent Suga from becoming Japan’s prime minister when the ruling Liberal Democratic Party elects a leader to replace Shinzo Abe this week.
As chief cabinet secretary for nearly eight years, Suga served as the de facto second in the administration, removing tough questions in twice-daily press briefings, advising Abe on politics and curbing obstinate Japanese bureaucracy.
Suga has emerged as the front runner to replace Abe, who is resigning for health reasons, since winning the support of major factions in the LDP. After what observers predict would be a comfortable Monday victory over his rivals, the party’s policy chief, Fumio Kishida, and Shigeru Ishiba, the former defense minister, Suga virtually confirmed his approval of his premiership in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. .
After the controversial decision to exclude just over a million members of the LDP – among them Ishiba the most popular candidate – the inauguration of Suga as prime minister has become a phase.
The 71-year-old is widely seen as a candidate for Abe’s continuity, a label he did little to contradict during his bid for leadership. He said that his predecessor’s economic policy – a combination of hefty government spending, super-easy monetary policy and structural reforms – would remain the same.
“The only reason why Suga got prime minister is that he pledged to continue Abe’s policies, so for a new prime minister, he is unusually bound by the record and legacy of the previous government,” said Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University in Sofia. Tokyo.
“After Suga served as the main defender of Abe, he cannot disassociate himself from Abe and push for a major shift in policy without facing severe criticism. His hands are tied.”
On foreign policy, Suga will continue to prioritize Japan’s security relations with the United States in the face of assertive China and nuclear-armed North Korea, although he admitted Sunday that he lacked the “diplomatic skills” that helped Abe forge a close personal relationship. With Donald Trump.
Despite his close political affiliation with Abe, Suga’s background couldn’t be more different. As the son of a foreign minister and grandson of a prime minister, Abe even stands out in a parliament full of hereditary politicians. Suga, however, is a self-made politician, the eldest son of a strawberry farmer and a teacher in Yuzawa, a town in Rural Akita Prefecture, and despite his lack of political lineage, he is now on the cusp of leading the world’s third-largest economy. .
“He was so quiet,” Hiroshi Kawai, a former high school classmate, said of Suga. “It was someone you wouldn’t notice if he was there or not.”
After graduating from high school in Yuzawa – where his name is now decorated on T-shirts and tote bags – Suga traveled to Tokyo, where he took a series of part-time jobs, including assignments at a cardboard factory and the Tsukiji fish market, making his way through university.
His career in politics began in 1987, when he was reported to have donned half a dozen shoes while successfully wandering for a seat on Yokohama City Council, where he became known as the “Shadow Mayor”.
Suga’s status as a relative alien could serve him well as he tries to pull Japan out of the long recession exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Tobias Harris, a Japanese expert at Teneo Intelligence in Washington and author of a new book on Abe.
“If longing persists,” Harris said, “it will be in part because you are not genetically political.” “Having worked his way through politics, he is ready to work harder and is more able to engage with voters than Abe has been. In his private political life, and as a key advisor to Abe, he has consistently focused on the enclave issues that matter most to voters.”
Suga’s political fortunes have been closely tied to Abe since his victory in the House of Representatives in 1996, and he is cited by many as the main influence in Abe’s decision to run for prime minister for the second time after a first term in office that ended disastrously shortly after. Year.
Despite his many hours spent briefing, sometimes clashing with political journalists, his unemotional cast offered few thoughts on the man behind the public figure.
But since announcing his candidacy at the end of August, however, he has undergone a modest change in his image, from an obscure political implementer whose most memorable act so far was the announcement of the name of the new Reiwa era last year, to the closest dominant conservative party in Japan. For the man in the all inclusive Tokyo.
“That a normal person like me could strive to be prime minister … This is exactly Japan’s democracy, isn’t it?” He said at the start of his campaign.
Suga, 71, is the oldest of the three candidates, but his tireless work ethic is said to extend well beyond his life in politics. While he admitted to a weakness in pancakes, he is said to burn off extra calories by starting and finishing each day with 100 stomach exercises.
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