Yoshihide Suga has been nominated as Japan’s 99th Prime Minister following an election at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Suga, 71, obtained 314 of a possible 462 votes, with Yukio Edano of the Constitutional Democratic Party runner up with 134 votes, followed by Toranosuke Katayama of the Japan Innovation Party with 11 votes. He becomes the first new Prime Minister of Japan in eight years following Shinzo Abe’s decision to step down due to health reasons.
The cabinet was announced by new Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, who was shuffled from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to his new post. The eight reappointments and five first-time appointments gave the impression that Suga will remain on the same path as Abe when it comes to major policy directions.
We noted that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is not affiliated with a political faction, nor does he come from a well-known family – an unusual occurence for the LDP. Ever since Suga served as Chief Cabinet Secretary, he has been regarded as a promoter of tourism and IR projects, and while significant progress during the pandemic is unlikely, it is also unlikely Suga will withdraw the IR plan.
Suga has also been focused on administrative and regulatory reform, and has appointed 62-year-old Takuya Hirai into the newly established post of Minister of Digital Reform. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the delay in digitization of government administration and Suga promises IT reforms.
Further, with the upcoming 2025 Osaka/Kansai Expo, 50-year-old Shinji Inoue, who has bureaucratic experience in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, has been appointed.
Of the eight reappointed ministers, Kazuyoshi Akaba from the Komeito Party – an ally of the LDP – will continue to serve as the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which is also the contact point for IR development.
Toshihiro Nikai, a man of great influence, will continue to be the chief secretary and manage the party. His home base is in Wakayama, another potential location for IR, so the industry will also have eyes on him.