Sunday June 13th, 2021 8:08AM

Yoshihide Suga named Japan's prime minister, succeeding Abe

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Parliament elected Yoshihide Suga as prime minister Wednesday, replacing long-serving leader Shinzo Abe with his right-hand man.

Suga bowed deeply several times when the results were announced, as fellow governing party lawmakers applauded in parliament's more powerful lower house. He was also confirmed in the upper house.

Suga, who was chief Cabinet secretary and the top government spokesman under Abe, selected a Cabinet with a mix of fresh faces and current or former ministers, a lineup that suggests a continuation of Abe's influence while reflecting Suga's pledge of administrative reforms.

Suga has stressed his background as a farmer’s son and a self-made politician in promising to serve the interests of ordinary people and rural communities. He has said he will pursue Abe’s unfinished policies and that his priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around an economy battered by the pandemic.

“Response to the coronavirus is the immediate priority,” Suga, wearing a formal suit, said at his first news conference as prime minister Wednesday night. “I will carry on former Prime Minister Abe's policies and push them forward in order to overcome this national crisis and restore safety for the people.”

Suga was a loyal supporter since Abe’s first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and helped him return to the job in 2012.

Abe, 65, announced last month he was resigning because of a chronic illness. He said Wednesday that as a lawmaker, he will support Suga’s government.

Suga, 71, praised Abe’s diplomacy and economic policies when asked what he would like to accomplish himself. He pledged to speed up Japan’s lagging digital transformation and appointed a special minister, Takuya Hrai.

Suga also said he will push reforms by breaking down bureaucratic barriers and vested interests. But in reshuffling key posts within the party, Suga evenly allocated top posts to key factions, a balancing act seen as returning favors for support in the leadership race.

Suga said late Wednesday he will further deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance to protect the national interest, and wants to build “a stable relationship with neighboring countries including China and Russia.”

Suga said he was appointing “reform-minded, hard-working people” to the new 20-member Cabinet. Eleven members of the last Abe administration were retained or shifted to different ministerial posts.

Abe's younger brother, Nobuo Kishi, who has close ties with Taiwan, was appointed defense minister, replacing Taro Kono, who was shifted to administrative reforms minister. China claims Taiwan is its territory and opposes contacts between other countries and the self-ruled island.

China congratulated Suga on his election, with foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying China is willing to work with the new Japanese government to “jointly push forward China-Japan relations to achieve new and greater developments.”

But in reaction to Kishi's appointment, Wang said Beijing hopes Japan will “abide by the one-China principle and avoid any form of official exchanges with Taiwan."

Finance Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, were retained.

Motegi called South Korea “an important neighbor” and said he hopes to resolve ongoing disputes over Koreans forced by Japanese companies to work during World War II, although he said Seoul's position violates international law.

Kishi, who in the past has said Japan should consider acquiring nuclear weapons, said as a Cabinet member he will abide by the government's non-nuclear principle. He said he will study ways to bolster missile deterrence, including acquiring a first-strike capability.

Hashimoto and Yoko Kamikawa are the only Cabinet ministers who are women. Kamikawa in her last stint as justice minister in 2018 ordered the executions of 13 Aum Shinrikyo cult members for the 1995 gas attacks on Tokyo subways.

Suga picked Katsunobu Kato, a former health minister and finance official, to succeed him as chief Cabinet secretary.

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

He will inherit a range of challenges, including relations with China, which continues its assertive actions in the contested East China Sea, and the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to next summer due to the coronavirus. And he will have to establish a good relationship with the winner of the U.S. presidential election.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Yoshihide Suga named Japan's prime minister, succeeding Abe
Yoshihide Suga has been formally elected Japan’s prime minister in a parliamentary vote
1:14AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Doubts persist as NYC's hybrid school year is set to start
New York City’s already delayed school year is scheduled to start remotely on Wednesday and in person on Monday
1:06AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Divers in SE Asia may have found US submarine lost in WWII
Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of a U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II
1:02AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Transgender activist wins Delaware state senate primary
Transgender activist Sarah McBride has won a Democratic state Senate primary in Delaware and is poised to make history as the first transgender person elected to the state's General Assembly
12:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
India surpasses 5 million coronavirus cases, 82,066 deaths
India’ coronavirus confirmed cases cross 5 million, still soaring and testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages
11:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
Seeping under doors, bad air from West's fires won't ease up
Dangerously dirty air spewing from massive wildfires on the West Coast is seeping into homes and businesses and keeping people already shut away by the coronavirus pandemic from enjoying even a walk outside
11:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Japan's PM Shinzo Abe resigns, clearing way for successor
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet resigned Wednesday, clearing the way for his successor to take over after parliamentary confirmation later in the day
11:20PM ( 2 hours ago )
Israel signs pacts with 2 Arab states: A 'new' Mideast?
Israel on Tuesday signed historic diplomatic pacts with two Gulf Arab states at a White House ceremony that President Donald Trump declared would mark the “dawn of a new Middle East.”
10:33PM ( 2 hours ago )
Police leaders pressed Rochester to keep Prude video secret
Newly released emails show Rochester police commanders urged city officials to hold off on publicly releasing body camera footage of Daniel Prude’s suffocation death because they feared violent blowback if the video came out during nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd
8:38PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Asian shares mostly higher after Wall Street gains
Shares are mostly higher in Asia after advances for big technology companies carried Wall Street to further gains overnight
11:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: UN assembly head warns of pandemic unilateralism
The new president of the U.N. General Assembly is warning that unilateralism will only strengthen the COVID-19 pandemic and is calling for a new commitment to global cooperation including on the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines
10:18PM ( 3 hours ago )
Google exec on hot seat in Congress over advertising power
A Senate panel put a top Google executive on the defensive over the company’s powerful position in online advertising as some lawmakers look hopefully toward an expected antitrust case against the tech giant by the Trump administration
7:45PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
Pelosi: House to stay in session until COVID-19 rescue pact
Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief
4:23PM ( 8 hours ago )
Stocks give up part of an early gain but still end higher
Stocks gave up part of their gains from earlier in the day but still closed higher on Wall Street Tuesday
4:09PM ( 9 hours ago )
The Latest: Fauci: Vermont's virus efforts model for nation
Dr. Anthony Fauci calls Vermont’s ongoing efforts to control the coronavirus a model for the nation
3:25PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Doubts persist as NYC's hybrid school year is set to start
New York City’s already delayed school year is scheduled to start remotely on Wednesday and in person on Monday
1:06AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Divers in SE Asia may have found US submarine lost in WWII
Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of a U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II
1:02AM ( 18 minutes ago )
'Nothing left in the bucket': Wildfire resources run thin
Firefighters batting the West Coast wildfires say this year's blazes are some of the worst they have ever seen
1:01AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Dunning pitches White Sox past Twins for 6th straight win
Dane Dunning pitched seven effective innings, Luis Robert had a key two-run single and the Chicago White Sox strengthened their hold on the AL Central with a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins
12:44AM ( 36 minutes ago )
'Huge rainmaker': Hurricane Sally threatens historic floods
Heavy rain and high winds from Hurricane Sally's outer storm bands are pounding the Florida and Alabama coasts
12:36AM ( 44 minutes ago )