Yoshihide Suga is set to become Japan’s prime minister after he was comfortably elected to lead the ruling party following the resignation of Shinzo Abe.
Suga easily won the ballot, taking 377 of a total of 534 valid votes from Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers and regional representatives.
He won two other contenders – Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister, and Shigeru Ishiba, a former LDP secretary-general and one-time defence minister.
Given the LDP’s legislative majority, Suga is expected to easily win a parliamentary vote Wednesday and become prime minister, to replace Abe, who announced his resignation last month on health grounds.
A powerful government adviser and chief cabinet secretary for almost eight years, 71-year-old Suga is seen as promising stability and a continuation of Abe’s policies.
Taking over mid-term, Suga is expected to stay in the post until elections due in September 2021.