Newly elected Liberal Democratic Party President Yoshihide Suga, who is set to become Japan’s next leader later this week, has vowed to “create a Cabinet that works for people.”
In a post-election news conference on Monday, Suga expressed his determination to push forward with government reforms and deregulation in Japan by including in his Cabinet “reform-minded people who are found in various factions.”
“Since there is a change of prime minister, I will venture the promotion of people who are fit to carry out my policies,” he said, while expressing his intent to work toward launching a digital agency and tackle issues such as revising the country’s pacifist Constitution.
Suga plans to retain LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai and Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Hiroshi Moriyama in an LDP leadership reshuffle Tuesday, LDP sources said. Suga also intends to appoint Tsutomu Sato, a former internal affairs and communications minister, as chairman of the party’s General Council.
Hakubun Shimomura, the current LDP election strategy committee chairman, will take over the party’s policy council chairman title, replacing Suga’s election rival, Fumio Kishida, public broadcaster NHK reported.
At his news conference, Suga also indicated he may not dissolve the Lower House soon for a general election.
“I think it would be difficult unless experts view that the (virus) has been fully brought under control,” he said.
“It is important to rebuild the economy while also containing the coronavirus at the same time. It’s not something I will do as soon as the virus is brought under control either,” he added.
Suga’s election as prime minister at an extraordinary Diet session on Wednesday is almost certain as the governing party controls the House of Representatives, the more powerful lower chamber, and holds a majority in the Upper House with its coalition partner Komeito.
While attention is now focused on the likely lineup of Suga’s Cabinet, how long its members will remain in their positions is unclear.
Suga’s term as LDP president is limited to the remainder of Abe’s current three-year term through September 2021 and a Lower House election must be held before Oct. 21 that year.
The new prime minister will be tasked with challenges inherited from Abe in the diplomatic front, including dealing with China’s assertive actions in the East China Sea and building upon ties with the United States, which is holding its presidential election in November.
He will also have to decide what to do with the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which have been postponed one year to the summer of 2021 due to the pandemic.