Yoshihide Suga confirmed as Japan's new prime minister

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks at a press conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo

Japanese Cabinet Resigns En Masse Ahead of Suga's Assumption of Premiership- Kyodo AFP 2020 Yoshikazu TSUNO

Japan's Yoshihide Suga was voted prime minister by parliament's lower house on Wednesday, becoming the country's first new leader in almost eight years, as he readied a "continuity cabinet" expected to keep about half of predecessor Shinzo Abe's lineup.

On Wednesday, both houses of the Japanese parliament will hold a vote to name the new prime minister, who will then appoint new ministers.

Suga is set to win a parliamentary vote for prime minister later Wednesday following his election as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday.

He bowed deeply as lawmakers applauded following the announcement, but made no immediate comment.

For key Cabinet posts, Suga chose Taro Aso as finance minister, Toshimitsu Motegi as foreign minister and Yasutoshi Nishimura as minister in charge of economic revitalisation and the government's coronavirus response. Abe's younger brother, Nobuo Kishi, is reportedly tapped as defence minister, replacing Taro Kono who is expected be shifted to administrative reforms minister. Suga served as a powerful government adviser and spokesperson during Abe's almost eight-year tenure. Suga served under him in the pivotal post of chief cabinet secretary.

He has also been the face of the government, doggedly defending its policies as spokesperson, including in sometimes testy exchanges with journalists.

But while he has championed some measures meant to help rural areas like his hometown in northern Japan's Akita, his political views remain something of a mystery.

He has said he will pursue Abe's unfinished policies, and that his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around an economy battered by the pandemic.

His recipe for doing that?

Suga has been a loyal supporter of Abe since Abe's first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

"Abe's administration built political capital for itself with loose monetary and fiscal policies, a balanced and skillful diplomacy with the United States and China, and implementation of flexible domestic politic", he said. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whomever wins the USA presidential race.

Relations with China may prove trickier.

There has been speculation that Suga could call a snap election to consolidate his position and avoid being seen as a caretaker prime minister, but he has been circumspect on the prospect.

On Wednesday morning as he prepared to resign, Abe said he had given "all my strength" and was ending his tenure "with a sense of pride".

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