Suga elected Japan's 99th prime minister

Japan's Suga crafts'continuity cabinet after voted prime minister

Japanese Cabinet Resigns En Masse Ahead of Suga's Assumption of Premiership - Kyodo

Yoshihide Suga was elected as Japan's next prime minister by the country's lower house of parliament on Wednesday, replacing Shinzo Abe who resigned because of poor health.

Suga, who won a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership race by a landslide on Monday, faces a plethora of challenges, including tackling COVID-19 while reviving a battered economy and dealing with a rapidly aging society.

He bowed deeply as politicians applauded following the announcement, but made no immediate comment.

Suga, who was chief Cabinet secretary in Abe's government, is to launch his own Cabinet later Wednesday.

Abe said before the change was official that as a lawmaker, he will support Suga's government and he thanked the people for their understanding and their strong support for Suga.

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A self-avowed reformer, Suga said his top priority in office will be to combat the coronavirus pandemic and support an economy struggling amid the health crisis, but he has also vowed to pursue some of Abe's priorities, including his 'Abenomics, ' which combines easy monetary policies with fiscal stimulus. Of the Cabinet's 20 members, 15 had ministerial portfolios in the previous administration.

His upbringing, as the son of a strawberry-farmer father and schoolteacher mother, sets him apart from the many blue-blood political elites in his party and the Japanese political scene.

Among those expected to retain their jobs are key players such as Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, along with Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the youngest at 39.

Kishi's predecessor in the defense post, Taro Kono, was tapped for minister in charge of administrative reform, an area Suga has promised to focus on to reduce bureaucratic sectionalism.

If confirmed, that would be fewer than the three women who served in Abe's last government.

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He will also take over a sweeping review of Japan's national security policy that was initiated by Abe after plans to introduce a USA -developed missile defense system were scrapped due to technical issues.

There too, experts say, he is likely to tread the path charted by Abe, prioritising the key relationship with the United States, whoever is president after November's election.

Relations with China may prove trickier.

There has been speculation that Suga could call a snap election to consolidate his position and avoid being seen as a caretaker prime minister, but he has been circumspect on the prospect.

"I owe everything to the Japanese people".

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