Forty-eight hours after his triumphant election as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), Yoshihide Suga, 71, is due to be invested as Prime Minister by the Parliament of Japan on Wednesday, September 16.

His dubbing is beyond doubt: his formation and his coalition ally, the Komeito party, have a comfortable majority in both houses of the Diet.

A simple majority vote is required to elect the Prime Minister.

The ballot is scheduled for early afternoon, after the resignation en bloc in the morning of the government of Shinzo Abe.

The latter withdraws for health reasons.

Yoshihide Suga has been secretary general and government spokesperson since Shinzo Abe's return to power at the end of 2012. Son of a strawberry farmer with an atypical career, he faithfully served and advised Shinzo Abe for many years, coordinating policy between ministries and numerous state agencies.

As such, he knows all the cogs of the powerful Japanese bureaucracy, but does not have the international stature of Shinzo Abe.

Guarantee of stability

Yoshihide Suga has pledged to continue the policies of his predecessor, thus giving guarantees of stability to the barons of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), who voted for him in the party's internal election on Monday.

The composition of his new government should not hold any big surprises.

Key figures from the previous team are expected to retain their posts, such as veteran Taro Aso (Finance) and Toshimitsu Motegi (Foreign Affairs).

At Defense, Taro Kono would be replaced by Nobuo Kishi, who is none other than Shinzo Abe's brother but bearing the last name of their maternal grandfather, Prime Minister of Japan in the late 1950s.

Taro Kono would inherit the Administrative Reform portfolio, considered a priority by Yoshihide Suga.

The name of the outgoing Minister of Health, Katsunobu Kato, is circulating to succeed Yoshihide Suga in the strategic post of secretary general of the government.

Among the vast projects awaiting the Suga government are the coronavirus crisis, the economic recession, the delicate question of whether or not the Tokyo Olympics will be held, postponed to the summer of 2021, and the repercussions of international tensions, in particular between Washington and Beijing.

More pragmatic than dogmatic

Yoshihide Suga is seen as a more pragmatic than a dogmatic leader.

During the brief internal election campaign of the PLD, he insisted on the need to break down the silos of the Japanese public administration rather than proposing a grand political vision.

Observers expect him to continue Shinzo Abe's economic policies, characterized in particular by ultra-accommodative monetary policy and massive fiscal stimulus, while speeding up structural reforms deemed necessary.

Some senior PLD officials are in favor of holding early legislative elections, in order to consolidate Yoshihide Suga's legitimacy and extend the term of his mandate beyond the one initially planned for Shinzo Abe in the fall of 2021. But For the moment Yoshihide Suga has judged that such an election was not a priority, arguing also that it would be difficult to organize such a poll as long as the coronavirus pandemic is not under control.

With AFP

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