Japan: Fumio Kishida appointed Prime Minister by Parliament

Fumio Kishida, 64, was elected Prime Minister of Japan by Parliament on Monday and was to announce his government team in the wake of his election last Wednesday as president of the ruling party. Having reached a consensus within the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, conservative right), the former Minister of Foreign Affairs (2012-2017) succeeds Yoshihide Suga.

The latter, with all his government, had resigned in the morning. Mr Suga is stepping down after barely a year in office, overcome by his unpopularity over his handling of the health crisis and the maintenance of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics at all costs this summer.

Mr. Kishida won 311 votes in the Lower House of the Diet, against 124 votes for the main opposition leader, Yukio Edano. The upper house also widely voted for him with 141 votes, against 65 for Mr. Edano. The new strongman of Japan will have a lot to do to accelerate the economic recovery of his country while avoiding a resurgence of the health crisis, and to face a tense regional geopolitical context, with the North Korean threat and the ambitions of China .

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The government already known?

The composition of the new government has already leaked to the local press. It reveals a great continuity with the outgoing team and the influence of two major factions of the PLD: that led by ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 67, and that of the outgoing Minister of Finance, Taro Aso, 81. Thus, the next Minister of Finance, Shunichi Suzuki, 68 years old and brother-in-law of Taro Aso, is the former Minister of the Environment and the Olympic Games.

The current head of Japanese diplomacy, Toshimitsu Motegi, 65, is expected to keep his post, as is Nobuo Kishi, Shinzo Abe’s younger brother, at Defense. Only three women are expected to enter government. Among them, Seiko Noda, 61, came fourth and last in the internal election of the PLD. She will be responsible for combating low birth rates and gender inequalities, her favorite themes.

The new government will especially have to organize legislative elections before November. Even if it risks losing seats, the PLD is however almost certain to win them again in the face of fragmented opposition. The election to the Lower House of Parliament could be held on October 31, Japanese media reported on Monday, a little earlier than expected. Mr Kishida would thus risk missing the G20 summit in Rome, scheduled for October 30 and 31.

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