TOKYO (WNN) – Japan’s ruling party is voting on Wednesday to choose its new leader, with the next prime minister facing imminent, important tasks such as addressing the pandemic-hit economy and rising regional security. Ensuring a strong alliance with Washington amidst risks.
The new leader also needs to replace the party’s high-handedness, spoiled by outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who angered the public last summer for insisting on holding the Olympics in Tokyo and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Was.
Observers say the long-ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party desperately needs to quickly turn public support ahead of elections to the lower house, due within two months.
Wednesday afternoon’s voting involves only LDP MPs and grassroots members, and the results will be known within hours. The LDP who wins the election will become the prime minister as the party controls the parliament. Voting is expected there next Monday and the new prime minister will form a new cabinet later that day.
Vaccination Minister Taro Kono, and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida are considered the top contenders, although unusually, there are two women competing – the ultra-conservative Sane Takachi and the liberal-leaning Seiko Noda.
Takachi has moved on to a competitive third option after gaining significant support from Suga’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose conservative vision and revisionist stance she supports.
At a hotel in Tokyo, lawmakers cast their vote one-by-one in a ballot box on the stage when their names were called.
If no one gets a majority in the first round of votes, which is likely because the top three candidates have close support, the winner will be determined mostly by lawmakers.
Kono, known as a vagabond and reformist, supported the eventual abolition of nuclear power, while Kishida called for development and distribution under his “new capitalism”, asserting that Abe’s economic policy would lead to Only big companies benefited. Takaichi, the most extremist ever who wants more military capability and spending, promises to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Noda emphasizes women’s rights and diversity.
Overall, little change is expected in key diplomatic and security policies under the new leader, said Yu Uchiyama, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo.
All candidates support Japan-US security ties and partnerships with other like-minded democracies in Asia and Europe to counter China’s growing influence.
Analysts believe that Suga lost support due to the complacency of the party and his increasingly high-powered approach during Abe’s long leadership.
Wednesday’s vote is being seen as a test of whether the party can get out of Abe’s shadow. Experts say that his influence in government and party affairs has largely suppressed diverse views and shifted the party to the right.
The party’s vote could also end an era of unusual political stability and return Japan to a “revolving door” leadership.
“The concern is not about individuals but about the stability of Japanese politics,” Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a telephone briefing on Tuesday. “It’s about whether we are entering the Japanese politics of instability and short-lived prime ministership,” he said. “That makes it very difficult to move forward on the agenda.”
Kono is supported by the public, but lacks solid support from the party’s conservative stalwarts, which could set him up for short-lived premiership, while Kishida is seen as an alternative that can serve as a long-term government. can lead.
Suga is leaving only a year after taking office as a pinch hitter for Abe, who abruptly resigned over health problems, ending his nearly eight-year leadership, the longest in Japan’s constitutional history. Was.