Japan’s parliament has elected Yoshihide Suga as the country’s new prime minister, following the resignation of Shinzo Abe.
The former chief cabinet secretary won an easy victory in a parliamentary vote, where his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a commanding majority.
Suga, 71, is expected to stick closely to policies championed by Shinzo Abe during his record-breaking tenure. A new cabinet was announced shortly after the vote, with several ministers keeping their jobs.
They include key players such as Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, along with Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the youngest at 39.
Abe’s younger brother, Nobuo Kishi, was handed the defence portfolio, while outgoing Defence Minister Taro Kono takes charge of administrative reform, a post he has held before.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, Abe’s point man on COVID-19 response, remains economy minister, while Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama also retains his post.
The fight against the coronavirus will be a priority, but Suga has also signalled a continuation of the broad policy framework of Abenomics, the three-pronged strategy that was Abe’s signature policy and that involved monetary easing, government spending and structural reform.
The new PM is expected to push forward with his own initiatives, including bureaucratic reform, digitalisation, and helping Japan’s rural communities through policies on agriculture and tourism.
He is not expected to speak until late Wednesday when he gives his first press conference as prime minister.
Abe formally resigned earlier Wednesday along with his cabinet, ending his record run in office with a year left in his mandate. He was forced out by a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, a bowel disease that has long plagued him.