Yoshihide Suga has been formally voted in as Japan’s 99th prime minister.
At an extraordinary Diet session on Sept 16, he succeeded Shinzo Abe who set the record for longest consecutive tenure at seven years and eight months but resigned in August over health problems.
Asahi Shimbun reports that Suga, 71, was backed by an overwhelming majority in both chambers of the Diet.
The self-made and strong-willed Suga has said that he will carry on Abe’s policies, and is set to retain a number of ministers, including Finance Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi.
He will move on to form his first Cabinet immediately, says The Japan Times.
Suga has embraced the label of being Abe’s heir for the sake of continuity, something he believes will be a key element in navigating the country through the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
Despite his dour demeanour, Suga is immensely sociable. He spends his nights attending dinners and drinking sessions with journalists, politicians, academics, and influential power brokers.
They may get boozy but the new prime minister never does as he doesn’t touch alcohol.
There are also rumours that he orchestrated the administration’s control of the press and helped cover up alleged corruption scandals that forced Abe to resign.