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Japan’s ruling party kicks off search for new PM

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Japan’s ruling party kicks off search for new PM

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Photo: Ken Suzuki

The race within Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to find a successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to begin today.

Abe—Japan’s longest serving premier at seven years and eight months—abruptly resigned on August 28, citing poor health. His resignation comes as Japan struggles with over 70,000 COVID-19 cases and growing criticism of Abe’s government for inadequately responding to the economic effects of the pandemic. The LDP is currently weighing three candidates, with Yoshihide Suga—the current chief cabinet secretary—leading.

Should Suga be selected, expect a continuation of Abe’s policies. However, regardless of which candidate emerges victorious, the new premier faces the weighty question of whether to maintain or diverge from Abe’s diplomatic approach. Under the prime minister’s policies, Japan has successfully balanced maintaining its historic alliance and ties with the US while sustaining increasingly important trade with China. Yet as the security threat posed by Beijing’s militarisation the East Asia’s seas increases and Washington continues to turn to protectionist trade measures against Japan, the new premier will have to weigh the efficacy of Abe’s approach in a changing geopolitical environment.

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