Japan's Suga formally voted in as PM, readies 'continuity cabinet'


Yoshihide Suga was voted in as Japan's next prime minister on Wednesday, September 16, by parliament's lower house.

"After [the LDP] took over political power, I've worked to the best of my abilities every single day to revitalize the economy and carry out diplomacy to protect national interests", Abe told reporters. "During this time, I was able to tackle various challenges together with the people, and I'm proud of myself".

"In order to overcome the crisis and give the Japanese people a sense of relief, we need to succeed in what Prime Minister Abe has been implementing", Suga said after being elected LDP leader Monday. Abe's tenure ended abruptly because of illness, and Suga helped him return as prime minister in 2012.

Clues as to whether and how Suga will push ahead with reforms could come from the lineup of government advisory panels such as the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, Koll said.

Suga has been a loyal supporter of Abe since Abe's first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007. Abe, 65, said last month he was resigning because his treatment for ulcerative colitis would be ongoing and cause physical weakness.

"The ambition of Mr. Suga to speed up and reinvigorate the process (of reform) is absolutely clear, but the next layer of personnel will be interesting", he said.

He plans to appoint "reform-minded, hard-working people" to the new Cabinet, to be launched later Wednesday.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in his rebuttal reiterated his attack on the bill as "emaciated". All the Democrats and one Republican, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against the bill.

Katsunobu Kato, outgoing health minister and a close Suga ally, takes on the challenging post of chief cabinet secretary. Mr Suga, 71, will be replacing Shinzo Abe in the top job after he recently resigned due to ill health.

Media reports say some key ministers, including Finance Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, will stay.

After announcing the members of his cabinet, Suga will be formally inaugurated in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace and hold a press conference in the evening.

Meanwhile, Abe held his last Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday morning.

Compared to his political prowess at home, Suga has hardly travelled overseas and his diplomatic skills are unknown, though he is largely expected to pursue Abe's priorities.

He will face a raft of tough challenges, including an economy that was already in recession before the coronavirus pandemic. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whomever wins the US presidential race.