Japan’s Senior Government Spokesman Yoshihide Suga is poised to win Monday’s ruling party leadership election, virtually ensuring that he succeeds Shinzo Abe as prime minister on Wednesday.
Seventy-one-year-old Mr. Suga, a longtime loyal aide of the outgoing PM, is expected to garner the bulk of votes from 394 governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers. He is also almost certain to win a majority of 141 votes from the party’s local chapters.
Mr. Suga won the backing of many ordinary Japanese, as well as several powerful blocs within the LDP, when he ppledged to pursue the key economic and foreign policies of the popular Mr. Abe.
Public Broadcaster NHK reported on Monday that the chief cabinet secretary was on track to win over 70% of the MPs’ votes and was already leading among local chapters.
The winner of the LDP race is virtually certain to be elected premier in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday because of the LDP’s majority in the lower house. He will serve out Mr. Abe’s term as party leader through September 2021.
Last month, Mr. Abe, Japan’s longest serving PM, said he would resign due to ill health, ending a nearly eight-year term.
Mr. Suga has pledged to continue Mr. Abe’s signature “Abenomics” strategy of hyper-easy monetary policy, government spending and reforms.
Japanese manufacturers remained pessimistic for a fourteenth straight month in September, according to a Reuters poll, underlining the huge challenge facing the next PM of the world’s third largest economy.