Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary to join race for succeeding Shinzo Abe
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will join the race to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who would, in turn, become the next country’s premier, a source familiar with the matter told Kyodo News Agency on Sunday.
Suga, the chief spokesperson for the government, informed LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai about his desire to contest the party’s leadership election, a day after Abe announced he would step down as the Prime Minister due to health concerns, the source said.
Some senior members of the LDP have lauded Suga for his crisis management abilities, underlining that it is crucial to maintain policy continuity in the fight against Covid-19, the source added.
According to senior party lawmakers, the election is slated to be held on or around September 15. LDP policy chief and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba have also indicated their intention to participate in the election.
The Prime Minister has directed Nikai to make decisions regarding the party leadership race.
Suga, who has been serving as the government’s top spokesperson since Abe assumed power in 2012, is one of the Prime Minister’s closest aides and was considered a potential contender.
He had earlier ruled out succeeding Abe, saying he “never thought about it,” according to Kyodo News Agency.
Abe, the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister, is stepping down due to ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease which earlier forced him to resign from the post of the premiership in 2007.
The 65-year-old leader said on Friday that he will continue to carry out his duties until the LDP elects its new leader, who will subsequently become the new prime minister.