Suga vows to continue Abenomics in PM bid – World –

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker, speaks during a news conference to announce his candidacy for the party’s leadership election in Tokyo, Japan on Sept 2, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced on Wednesday his bid to become the nation’s next prime minister, saying he will continue “Abenomics” reforms.

“I decided to run in the Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership race after some deep thought on what I can do as a politician and a member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration,” Suga said, adding that he was entering the leadership contest to avoid a political vacuum in a time of crisis.

“There is not a moment to waste,” he said.

Suga, 71, who has steered Japan’s policymaking for nearly eight years as Abe’s right-hand man, unveiled his candidacy following days of speculation about his plans and shortly after securing wide support among factions of the ruling LDP.

The party’s leader is set to take over as prime minister, given the LDP’s majority in the lower house of parliament. Abe announced last week that he would step down, citing health reasons.

Suga said that he will do his “utmost to continue the work of party leader Abe, who poured his spirit and strength into the job”.

The top government spokesman laid out his priorities on Wednesday. These include pushing forward “Abenomics”-the popular term for the outgoing leader’s economic stimulus policies-and tackling challenges stemming from Japan’s aging and declining population. He has supported Abe’s efforts to revise Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

“Japan is facing a crisis unlike anything we have ever experienced. We need to do all we can to promote social and economic activities while preventing the spread of the coronavirus. We have to protect jobs and revitalize the economy. We must steadily carry out reforms, with an eye to the post-coronavirus era,” Suga said.

The LDP decided on Tuesday to hold a scaled-back leadership vote on Sep 14 and will not include rank-and-file members. Instead, only its legislators in the Diet and three representatives from each of the country’s 47 prefectures will vote. The procedure gives an advantage to Suga, who is backed by five of the LDP’s seven factions, according to local media.

Suga’s main competitors in the vote are a former defense minister, Shigeru Ishiba, and ex-foreign minister Fumio Kishida.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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