YOKOHAMA: Yoshihide Suga, the man set to be elected Japan’s next prime minister on Wednesday, is a farmer’s son with a reputation for inscrutability who has been a key government adviser and policy enforcer.
The 71-year-old easily won the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership race on Monday and is all but certain to win a parliamentary vote Wednesday and replace outgoing premier Shinzo Abe.
Suga’s election will cap a career that has seen him serve in several key political roles, including most recently as chief Cabinet secretary — an office that involves coordinating policy and bringing government agencies and the bureaucracy to heel.
He has also been the face of Abe’s government, serving as its top spokesman and defending decisions in daily press conferences, including in sometimes testy exchanges with reporters.
While the chief Cabinet secretary role has in the past been a stepping stone to the prime minister’s office, Suga had regularly said he was not interested in the top job.
But soon after Abe announced in late August that he would resign over health issues, Suga emerged as the leading choice to succeed him, with key LDP factions throwing their support behind him.
Suga has earned a somewhat fearsome reputation for wielding his power to control Japan’s sprawling and powerful bureaucracy and help push through government policies. AFP