Yoshihide Suga’s withdrawal set off a struggle to reshape Japanese politics


Japanese politics and policy updates

The sudden resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has triggered a battle to succeed him, which will put the increasingly frustrated younger generation of politicians against the old guards fighting to maintain the status quo.

Analysts said that the result Leadership competition If the Covid-19 crisis and the threat to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s long-term power control trigger a race that is not determined by traditional factional politics, then Japanese politics may be a turning point.

The Liberal Democratic Party will elect its next leader through the Electoral College on September 29. Its 383 members hold half of the votes and the rest will be composed of regional party officials. Whoever wins will lead the party to participate in a general election that must be held before November 30, and is expected to focus on the pandemic.

The 58-year-old Kono Taro and the 64-year-old Kishida Fumio are the main competitors of the two former foreign ministers. Continuous candidates.

The current Minister of Vaccine Kono, who served as Defense Minister under Yoshihide Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe, has not yet announced his candidacy, but said he is weighing bids.As a graduate of Georgetown University and a former intern of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, Kono speaks fluent English, is popular and outspoken, has a wide range of social media influence and more than 2.3 million followers On Twitter.

But colleagues were cautious about Kono’s grumpy and independent policy attitude, which earned him the widely used nickname “Weirdo”, a nickname he publicly acknowledged.

Kono Taro is very popular among the Japanese public and is expected to appoint a younger generation of politicians as senior ministers © REUTERS

In his new book, Push Japan forwardKono believes that the country not only needs to strengthen its alliance with the United States, but also needs to deal with a rising China by establishing a stronger regional framework in terms of security and economic relations.

More and more Confident China It is expected to be the top priority on the agenda of anyone succeeding Suga, but it is unlikely to be the focus of a campaign that may be led by Covid-19 measures.

Political analyst and former party official Nosuo Ito said: “As the general election approaches, especially among the young members of the Liberal Democratic Party, they will tend to choose candidates with strong public appeal.”

According to people familiar with the matter, Suga Yoshihide may support Kono’s bid. However, Taro Aso, the head of the 53 member factions of Kono, expressed reservations.

“Mr. Aso opposed Mr. Kono’s offer because if Mr. Kono becomes prime minister, he will be forced to retire,” Ito said. Many analysts expect Kono to replace 80-year-old officials who have long served as finance ministers and other senior officials with young party members.

Kishida speaks mildly and is not very popular with the public, but to his colleagues’ surprise, he plans to change party rules. If he becomes the leader, it will result in the removal of Toshihiro Nikai, the powerful secretary of the Liberal Democratic Party. This bold move is to acknowledge that Kishida must also attract the younger generation, even if he is expected to retain many older colleagues after he becomes a leader.

“Mr. Kishida challenged Mr. Nikai, and others within the Liberal Democratic Party welcomed it. Before that, he was seen as a good person, but indecisive, so this change shocked Yoshihide Suga,” Political Newsletter Tokyo Inside editor Kaohsiung Lichuan said.

Fumio Kishida standing in front of some microphones

Former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida is regarded as a candidate for continuity © REUTERS

Although Kishida’s 47-member faction has traditionally promoted fiscal discipline, analysts said he has pledged to implement a large-scale economic stimulus plan to combat the epidemic in order to win the support of the largest faction of the Liberal Democratic Party associated with Abe.

“If Mr. Kishida wins and lasts for about three years, he may deviate from Abenomics. This is Mr. Abe’s concern,” Ikawa said, referring to the economic agenda of the former prime minister’s monetary easing and flexible fiscal policy.

Abe continues to exercise power within the Liberal Democratic Party, even when Step down Last year for health reasons. According to reports, he is considering supporting the bid of the former Minister of the Interior Sanae Koichi. The 60-year-old Takaichi does not belong to any faction, but it is well known that he and Abe have the same tough views on history and reforming the peaceful constitution to expand Japan’s military role.

Shigeru Ishiba, a 64-year-old former defense minister, has received support from the grassroots, but has rarely received support from colleagues in the parliament. He also said that he is considering his options.

Business leaders are nervously concerned about political developments, worrying Return to the revolving door Premier League This is typical in Japan, and it will drive away foreign investors inspired by Abe’s economic recovery plan.

One big concern is the future of Suga’s major policy initiatives: Digital transformation Government and He pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Executives emphasized that whoever becomes prime minister needs a longer term Economic vision Comparing with industrial policy, Naoto Kan made the country surpass the era of Abenomics.

“Abenomics has worked well in achieving full employment and increasing family wages. Next is how we revitalize industries and businesses,” said Shinnam Take, CEO of beverage group Suntory, who is also the prime minister’s main adviser.

“We also need to discuss industrial policies such as semiconductors in depth because of the emergence of new Sino-US tensions, which we did not discuss during Abenomics,” he added.


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