Suga, who has previously been Minister of State with responsibility for coordination in Abe's cabinet, was elected party leader of the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Monday.

He has a political background in Yokohama City Council and the Japanese parliament, where he took his seat in 1996.

Through a number of different ministerial posts, Suga Shinzo Abe became the right hand during his time as Prime Minister.

He has been described as a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, and since he was close to Abe, the election is not expected to mean a major change of course for LDP or Japan.

The next Japanese election is scheduled for 2021, but some speculate that a new election may come earlier than that. Then it is the 71-year-old Suga who will be the liberal democratic poster name.