Yoshihide Suga became Japan’s new Prime Minister on September 16, replacing long-serving leader Shinzo Abe. Suga comes to the top job at a time when the country is grappling with a coronavirus-hit economy, geopolitical tensions and the US-China rivalry.
Successor to Yoshihide Suga needs to be reasonable in Tokyo’s relations with Beijing for the sake of regional stability and a smooth post-pandemic recovery.
The Japanese prime minister and his government have to craft policies that are centred on Tokyo’s best interests, with an eye on preventing disputes between the two leading powers from escalating.
The disappointment of athletes and a global television audience is of little consequence to the damage caused by hosting such an event at a time when there should be examples set to curb the virus.
Lingering factional infighting, Kishida’s unpopular plan to increase taxes for defence spending and the public’s ‘deep disappointment’ with his leadership have led to a reassessment of his predecessor’s achievements.
Tokyo’s plans to open a new embassy in Kiribati and a consulate in French-controlled New Caledonia come amid enhanced Japan-France military cooperation and US-led efforts to counter China in the Indo-Pacific.
In a newspaper interview, Suga said China is an important neighbour, but Japan and the US would speak out against its efforts to change the status quo in the region.
China’s military assertiveness and nuclear-armed North Korea are Japan’s main causes of concern, with the leader intending to double defence spending to appeal to conservatives.
Fumio Kishida takes office after being formally elected as Japan’s 100th prime minister, amid reports a general election will be held on October 31.
Ex-foreign minister Fumio Kishida defeated popular vaccine minister Taro Kono after the ruling party’s stalwarts voted for continuity.
The winner of the Liberal Democratic Party leadership race is almost certain to replace Yoshihide Suga. Here are the next steps.
Sanae Takaichi, an ultraconservative, and Seiko Noda, a pacifist, are the first women seeking to lead the LDP in 13 years.
Biden, Modi, Suga and Morrison pledge to make cyberspace and emerging technologies ‘trusted and secure’
China’s changing of the status quo with its military power in the background could present a risk to Japan, Suga said ahead of the first Quad summit.
Victory for either Seiko Noda and Sanae Takaichi in a September 29 vote for leader of the ruling LDP would mean Japan sees its first female premier.
Whoever replaces Yoshihide Suga as LDP leader in the party election later this month is odds-on to become Japan’s next PM. All the contenders agree on the need to counter Chinese aggression and support Taiwan.
Former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba, who is popular among the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s members, is reportedly considering backing Kono.
‘Looking at the situation with Hong Kong, I have a strong feeling that the Taiwan Strait will be the next big problem,’ the former foreign minister said.
The immediate question of who succeeds Suga may be complicated by speculation that Abe is preparing for a third stint as prime minister.
The shock announcement comes with Suga’s approval ratings at an all-time low over his government’s handling of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Since the end of the war, Japan has consistently walked the path of a country that values peace,’ Suga said in a speech marking the anniversary of the end of World War II.
The Medium Term Defence Programme could be updated within the year, as Japan seeks to counter Beijing’s growing assertiveness in surrounding waters.
Public sentiment towards the Games warmed as Japanese athletes claimed record medal hauls but Japan has been left with a US$15 billion bill and a raging pandemic.
Tokyo and Moscow have summoned each other’s envoys over the Russian PM’s visit to the islands amid Putin’s reported economic development plans for the region.