Suga emerges as favorite to succeed Japan’s pro-Trump Prime Minister Abe

FPI / September 10, 2020

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is expected to succeed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has nurtured security alliances in Asia to counter China while boosting Japan’s military under the post World War II pacifist constitution.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, speaks at a press conference at the prime minister’s office in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo on Sept. 1. / The Yomiuri Shimbun

Abe announced late last month that he is resigning due to health problems.

A vote for Abe’s replacement is expected on Sept. 14. Abe is Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and a key and unwavering ally of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Boosted by Abe’s popularity, Suga has become the favorite, with the largest faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) throwing its support behind him on Sept. 1, local media said.

Two candidates, former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba and LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida, have officially announced plans to stand in the election.

Opposition candidates are expected to stand, but the vote is seen largely as a formality that will endorse the ruling party’s choice.

The 71-year-old Suga has held his powerful post for years – coordinating policy among ministries and agencies, and serving as the effective face of the government as its chief spokesman.

“Considered a pragmatist without strong ideological positions, he is a close Abe advisor who encouraged the prime minister to run again after a disastrous first term in office ended after just a year in 2007,” the Asia Times noted.

“The consensus of LDP is to continue Abe’s policies,” Geostrategy-Direct contributing editor Ryo Saito noted. “Suga is considered the most reliable person to continue the Abe administration’s policies.”

After he announced his resignation, Abe’s approval rating shot to 70 percent as “the general public understands he is an irreplaceable figure, and much to the dismay of opposition parties whose agenda opposes whatever Abe does,” Saito said, comparing their political posture to that of U.S. Democrats sole policy often seems to oppose that of President Donald Trump.

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