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Suga Yoshihide receives applause after being elected as Japan’s new prime minister, in parliament. Suga Yoshihide stands after being elected as Japan’s new prime minister, in the lower house of parliament, Tokyo, Sept. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Koji Sasahara).

Japan’s New Prime Minister Isn’t the Transformative Leader It Needs

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020

After Abe Shinzo’s abrupt announcement last month that he was stepping down as prime minister of Japan due to health issues, three senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced they would compete in an intraparty election to replace him. They held press conferences and campaign events. Media outlets organized televised debates. Opinion polls gauged each candidate’s popularity.

It had all the trappings of a normal election. Yet for anyone paying attention, the result was a foregone conclusion. Suga Yoshihide, Abe’s longtime right-hand man, had a virtual lock on the votes needed to win. Even before Suga officially declared his candidacy, five of the LDP’s seven factions had confirmed their support for him, giving him an overwhelming advantage among members of the Diet, Japan’s legislature. And after Abe announced his resignation, the LDP said it would follow emergency rules and hold a restricted leadership vote, in which only lawmakers and representatives from local chapters across Japan’s 47 prefectures were eligible to cast ballots. ...

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