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Yoshihide Suga elected leader of Japan's ruling party, headed for premiership

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Tokyo, Sep 14: Yoshihide Suga, a long-time ally of outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been elected leader of Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), paving the way for him to become the country's next prime minister.

Suga received 377 votes in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party election to pick a successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced last month that he would resign due to health problems. The other two contenders received a combined 157 votes.

Yoshihide Suga elected leader of Japans ruling party, headed for premiership

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is choosing its new leader in an internal vote to pick a successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced last month that he would resign due to health problems.

The expected victory in the party vote by Suga, currently the chief Cabinet secretary and Abe''s right-hand man, all but guarantees his election in a parliamentary vote because of the majority held by the Liberal Democrats'' ruling coalition.

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Despite his low-key image, Suga is actually known for his iron-fist approach to getting jobs done as a policy coordinator and influencing bureaucrats by using the centralized power of the prime minister''s office.

Suga says that he is a reformist and that he has worked to achieve policies by breaking territorial barriers of bureaucracy. He credited himself for those efforts in achieving a booming foreign tourism industry in Japan, lowering cellphone bills and bolstering agricultural exports.

Compared to his political skills at home, Suga has hardly travelled overseas, and his diplomatic skills are unknown, though he is largely expected to pursue Abe''s priorities.

In addition to the coronavirus and the economic fallout, Suga stands to inherit several other challenges, including China, which continues its assertive actions in the East China Sea. He also will have to decide what to do with the Tokyo Olympics, which were pushed back to next summer due to the coronavirus. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whoever wins the US presidential race.

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    with PTI inputs

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