Wednesday saw a turning page in the history of Japan when it got its newest PM as Yoshihide Suga. He replaces Shinzo Abe who served as the Prime Minister for eight long years. Abe resigned last month due to health reasons and puts forward his favourite man for the most coveted position.
Yoshihide Suga won 314 votes out of 465 votes under the lower house and 142 votes out of 240 votes in the upper house. A formal commemoration will happen at the Imperial Palace where Emperor Naruhito will officially preside over and welcome the new PM on board.
Yoshihide Suga is known as the right-hand man for Abe and worked closely with him as Cheif Cabinet Secretary under Abe’s rule. He helped him implement the ‘Abenomics’ which was Shinzo Abe’s way of turning the economy further to this position where Japan is the third-largest economy in the world. Abe’s advances for his country have been huge and this is a challenge that the new Prime Minister is bestowed with. Further, he faces the challenge of managing Covid-19 situation in Japan which seems to rise and for which Abe was criticized to some point.
Although both Abe and Suga have been instrumental, together for shaping Japan’s excellent financial status quo, what sets apart both are their distinct beginnings. While Shinzo Abe is the son of Japan’s Foreign Minister and grandson of an ex-PM himself, Yoshihide Suga is the son of a farmer. He comes from a humble background where he worked at a cardboard factory to pay his college expenses and has worked his way up to where he is today. He is also of reserved nature who is solely focussed on Japan’s growth and does not associate with the glitz and glamour that comes along with the position.
Since Wednesday morning when the news was announced, congratulatory messages from across the top-notch leaders of the world flowed in. India’s PM Narendra Modi and Chinese PM Xi Jinping were among the first ones to send in their heartfelt wishes. As for India, Suga intended to follow the path laid by Shinzo Abe and work to strengthen the Indo-Pacific ties.
The areas for work as per Yoshihide Suga when he gave his first speech after being elected as the PM include ‘breaking down bureaucratic divisions, vested interests and harmful precedent’.
Suga, 71, belongs to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and has been in politics for a long time. He first made his mark as the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications in 2006 under the rule of Shinzo Abe. He was then promoted to the post of Chief Cabinet Secretary in 2012 which he continued till September 2020, the longest ever served by a Chief Cabinet Secretary in the history of Japan.
It is no secret that Shinzo Abe had close affection for Suga and was able to recognise the ambitious drive of Suga for the welfare of the country. The governing abilities of Suga cannot be undermined considering he comes from years of experience and seen presidents come and go in the political history of Japan. Nonetheless, Suga lies great obstacles to overcome as he has to carry forward the excellent legacy laid by Shinzo Abe. His policies and strategies both on the domestic front as well as the international front will dictate the course of Japan and whether Japan remains or improves as a top economy will be seen in the times to come.