09/16/2020, 16.39
JAPAN
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Yoshihide Suga becomes Japan’s new prime minister

The new prime minister replaces Shinzo Abe, who led the country since 2012. The former prime minister resigned due to health problems. Most members of the old cabinet have been reappointed. A new stimulus package might be implemented to revive the economy hit by the pandemic. Possible changes to the country's pacifist constitution remain an issue.

 

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Yoshihide Suga is Japan’s new prime minister after almost eight years under Shinzo Abe's reign. The Japanese Diet today voted the powerful former chief cabinet secretary into office in a special session.

Suga’s election was a foregone conclusion after he was chosen to head the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which controls both houses of parliament.

Shinzo Abe, who took office in 2012, resigned on 28 August for health reasons. Four days earlier, he became Japan’s longest serving prime minister.

Already at the helm of the government from 2006 to 2007, Abe saw his ulcerative colitis relapse this summer forcing him to quit.

As a token of continuity with his predecessor’s cabinet and policies, Suga reappointed eight ministers from the Abe cabinet, including two party heavyweights, namely Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. Seven other ministers remained in the cabinet but changed department. Only five ministers are new.

The new government’s top goal is the revival of the economy whilst keeping the coronavirus pandemic under control. This means managing the ongoing health crisis, which landed Abe cabinet in hot waters, and pulling off the Olympics after they were postponed until next summer because of the pandemic.

Suga promised to continue with "Abenomics,” his predecessor’s policy of monetary and fiscal expansion, which so far has had mixed results in dealing with the country’s stagnant economy.

To this end, the new prime minister suggested a second economic stimulus to counter the recessionary effects of COVID-19, which would come on top of the 230 trillion-yen (.2 trillion) package the government approved in April.

Abe’s legacy includes a controversial proposal to allow Japan’s Armed Forces to strike at bases of a foreign power in the event of a missile threat, a measure that many observers say violates the country’s pacifist constitution.

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