Tokyo, Sep 14 (efe-epa).- Japan’s ruling party elected Yoshihide Suga as its new leader Monday, a preliminary step for him to become prime minister in the coming days, replacing Shinzo Abe, who resigned for health reasons.
Suga, 71, has been Abe’s right-hand man in the administration that began in 2012. He will lead the Liberal Democratic Party until September 2021 to complete the term that Abe left incomplete due to his resignation, announced Aug. 28.
The new leader obtained 377 of the 535 votes that were at stake, which include those of the 394 legislators of the party and 141 of the local sections of that political group in the 47 prefectures of the country.
In the internal elections of the party, former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida came in second place, with 89 votes, and third place went to Shigeru Ishiba, with 68 of the 534 votes cast.
Suga’s victory had been anticipated for several days, taking into account the support received from the different factions of the party. In previous discussions, Suga has vowed to follow the policies Abe bequeathed.
The Diet (Parliament) will hold an extraordinary session between next Wednesday and Friday to appoint the new prime minister, and is expected to ratify Suga because the party has a majority in the two legislative chambers.
In a message to the political leaders who elected him, Suga recalled that Shinzo Abe had to resign for health reasons, due to chronic ulcerative colitis that he has suffered for decades, but said that it is necessary to continue with his work.
“A political vacuum cannot be tolerated amid the expansion of the coronavirus pandemic and the national crisis … We must inherit and forge ahead with Prime Minister Abe’s efforts,” Suga said.
Previously, Shinzo Abe congratulated Suga on the election and recalled the times they have worked together in the government.
“I am proud to have been able to fight with all of you for seven years and eight months,” said Abe. “Our fight continues,” added the still prime minister of Japan. EFE-EPA