Yoshihide Suga became the country’s 99th prime minister on Wednesday, putting an end to the administration led by his predecessor Shinzo Abe — the longest in modern Japanese history — and marking the beginning of a new era shaped by a host of daunting political, economic and societal challenges.

Bathed in camera flashes and surrounded by fellow lawmakers giving him a thundering ovation, Suga — appearing as if he were stifling a smile — stood up from his seat and bowed five times after he secured enough votes in a ballot to nominate the prime minister in the Lower House. After he earned the same result in the Upper House, the new prime minister moved on immediately to form his first Cabinet.

On Wednesday night, in his first news conference as the prime minister, Suga characterized his Cabinet as one that will “work for the people,” and said ending the coronavirus pandemic while rejuvenating the economy were the highest priorities for his administration.