Japan’s Suga to join race to succeed PM Abe – Kyodo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will join the race to succeed his boss Shinzo Abe as prime minister, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday, as the competition heats up to succeed Japan’s longest-serving leader.
Suga, a longtime lieutenant of Abe’s in a key supporting role, has denied interest in the top job but attracted attention with a series of interviews, to Reuters and other news organisations, in the days before Abe’s abrupt resignation for health reasons.
A Suga government would extend the fiscal and monetary stimulus that defined Abe’s nearly eight years in office.
Abe’s announcement on Friday, citing a worsening of a chronic illness, set the stage for a leadership election within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The LDP president is virtually assured of being prime minister because of the party’s majority in the lower house of parliament.
Suga decided to join the LDP race judging that he should play a leading role given expectations for his ability to manage crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Japan’s deepest postwar economic dive, Kyodo said, citing an unnamed source.
Calls to Suga’s parliamentary office seeking comment on Sunday went unanswered.
A self-made politician in a country of political dynasties, Suga was chosen by Abe in 2012 for the pivotal role of chief cabinet secretary, acting as top government spokesman, coordinating policies and riding herd on bureaucrats.
Suga would join such candidates as former foreign minister Fumio Kishida and former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba.