Yoshihide Suga, used to suits, a lectern and the trappings of the Japanese government, now finds himself on hip hop T-shirts and bags in his hometown, where the locals are celebrating the man expected to become prime minister in a few days.

Designer Ippei Fujita and Suga, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, both hail from the rural city of Yuzawa in northern Japan. The prospect of Suga completing the rise from humble beginnings to the nation's highest office is a source of pride for local townsfolk.

Suga, 71, is widely expected to win the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's leadership race on Monday and become premier thanks to the party's majority in the Lower House of parliament.