Yoshihide Suga crafts 'continuity cabinet' after voted PM

Japanese Cabinet Resigns En Masse Ahead of Suga's Assumption of Premiership - Kyodo

Japan's Yoshihide Suga was voted prime minister by parliament on Wednesday to become the country's first new leader in almost eight years, appointing a new cabinet that kept about half of the familiar faces from predecessor Shinzo Abe's lineup.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, along with his cabinet, have formally resigned to clear the way for his successor, who is set for confirmation in parliament after the long-term leader stepped down due to ongoing health problems.

On the diplomatic front, Suga is a relative novice, with little foreign policy experience. Of the 20 reported Cabinet members, only five of them are rookie ministers, including Abe's younger brother Nobuo Kishi, who will be the new defence minister.

New Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato announced the lineup at a news conference.

Suga, 71, won an easy victory, taking 314 votes of 462 valid ballots cast in the lower house of parliament, where his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a commanding majority. Suga served as a powerful government adviser and spokesperson during Abe's almost eight-year tenure. Abe had declined to publicly endorse any candidate.

The new prime minister will inherit a range of challenges, including relations with China, which continues its assertive actions in the contested East China Sea, and what to do with the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to next summer because of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Suga on his appointment and said he was looking forward to jointly take the "special strategic and global partnership" between the two countries to new heights.

Newly elected head of Liberal Democratic Party Yoshihide Suga smiles following his press conference at its headquarters after the party's leadership election in Tokyo on September 14, 2020.

Abe said before the change was official that as a lawmaker, he will support Suga's government and he thanked the people for their understanding and strong support for the upcoming leadership under Suga.

"After [the LDP] took over political power, I've worked to the best of my abilities every single day to revitalize the economy and carry out diplomacy to protect national interests", Abe told reporters.

He plans to appoint "reform-minded, hard-working people" to the new Cabinet, to be launched later Wednesday.

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