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Japan's Next Leader: Just Like Abe, Except for One Thing

Yoshihide Suga says he lacks diplomacy skills of outgoing PM, who had good relations with Trump
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 14, 2020 6:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – Yoshihide Suga was elected as the new head of Japan’s ruling party on Monday, all but assuring that he will become the country's new prime minister when a parliamentary election is held later in the week, per the AP. Despite his low-key image, Suga, 71, has been a key figure in outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, serving as the government's top spokesperson in his role as chief Cabinet secretary. Suga's victory in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party vote virtually guarantees his election in a parliamentary vote Wednesday. Suga, the son of a strawberry grower in northern Japan's Akita prefecture, said he had come a long way. “I will devote all of myself to work for the nation and the people," he said in his victory speech.

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He has said that his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around a Japanese economy battered by the pandemic. He gained the support of party heavyweights and their wing members early in the campaign on expectations that he would continue Abe’s policies. Suga acknowledged over the weekend that he's going to need help on one big facet of the job: diplomatic skills of the sort that allowed Abe to establish warm relations with President Trump and other world leaders, reports Japan Times. “Prime Minister Abe’s leadership diplomacy was truly amazing," he said. "I don’t think I can match that." He pledged to consult with Abe on that.

(Read more Japan stories.)

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