Tokyo: Kishida to be new premier

The former foreign minister beat vaccine campaign chief Taro Kono in the runoff for the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party. The winner was able to count on the support of members of parliament. The premiership is a foregone conclusion: the Liberal Democrats have a majority in both houses.



Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan today elected as its leader Fumio Kishida, who will take office as prime minister next week. Kishida, a former foreign minister, beat vaccination campaigner Taro Kono in a runoff. In an initial vote, the two contenders had managed to secure 256 and 255 votes respectively.

The two female candidates, Sanae Takaichi, former communications minister, and Seiko Noda, acting secretary-general of the LP, secured 188 and 63 votes respectively. 

Kono, 58, enjoyed great popularity but was considered a maverick; the less charismatic 64-year-old Kishida had a stronger support base among party members in parliament.

The Liberal Democrats control both branches of the legislature and their new leader will become prime minister after Yoshihide Suga resigned earlier this month. His decision was influenced by a drop in the approval rate for the government's handling of the pandemic. Yesterday it was reported that the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games had reported a lower number of hospital admissions than was actually the case.

Suga's successor will be tasked with leading the country's economic recovery after the pandemic. Both Kono and Kishida had stressed the failure of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policy. Kishida said he wanted to move away from the neoliberal policies of the past and also called for the creation of a "health crisis management agency" to deal with the pandemic.