It was just a formality: at 71, Yoshihide Suga was appointed the new Prime Minister of Japan by Parliament. He replaces Shinzo Abe, who resigned for health reasons, of whom he was the loyal lieutenant: until now he was secretary general and government spokesperson of his government.
Mr Suga won 314 votes on Wednesday out of 462 votes declared valid in the lower house of parliament, where the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) has a comfortable majority with its coalition ally, the Komeito (“Enlightened Government Party” , in French). A simple majority was required. The results of the vote in the upper house of parliament were not yet known when those of the lower house were announced, shortly before 2 p.m. local time (7 a.m. in Paris). But the PLD and the Komeito also have a majority in the upper house, and in the event of a contrary vote between the two chambers, the vote of the lower house takes the decision.
Recovering the economy hit by the pandemic
The composition of his government is expected to be announced later today. Mr. Suga had already triumphantly won the internal election of the PLD on Monday to become its new leader.
The new prime minister highlighted his origins – son of a farmer – and a self-taught politician by promising to serve the interests of his fellow citizens, especially those of rural communities. For years, he faithfully served and advised Mr. Abe, coordinating policy among ministries and numerous state agencies. As such, he knows all the cogs of the Japanese bureaucracy, but does not have the international stature of his predecessor.
He promised to pursue a large number of Shinzo Abe’s policies, and in particular to stay the course of the so-called “Abenomics” economic strategy. Its main priorities will be the fight against the coronavirus and the recovery of the economy hit by the pandemic.