Tokyo, 29 September 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Former Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida is set to become the country’s new prime minister after he won Wednesday’s leadership election for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
He is expected to succeed Yoshihide Suga as Japan’s premier on Monday, based on the LDP majority in the lower house of parliament. The 64-year-old beat Taro Kono, the minister for the coronavirus vaccination campaign, for the top party job in a run-off vote.
Suga threw in the towel as Japan’s leader after just one year in power after garnering much criticism for his handling of the coronavirus crisis and unpopular decision to go ahead with the Olympics despite the pandemic.
Kishida will have to work quickly to improve the party’s tarnished image among Japan’s public, because the election for parliament’s lower house is already scheduled for November.
Before it came to the run-off, there had been two other candidates for the top job: The staunchly national-conservative former interior minister Sanae Takaichi and the more liberal former minister for gender equality, Seiko Noda.
While the party base favored “vaccination tsar” Kono, Kishida was seen to be ahead among LDP lawmakers.
Ultimately, the foreign and economic policy legacy of long-time former premier Shinzo Abe is at stake. The right-wing conservative still has great influence in the party and had supported Takaichi.