(Bloomberg) -- Japanese ruling party leader Yoshihide Suga is set to be formally elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote Wednesday, becoming the country’s first new premier since 2012.
Suga’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is expected to use its majority in the powerful lower house of parliament to elect him to the post in a session that should start from about 1 p.m. Following the vote, Suga names his cabinet and the new ministers are likely to speak to the media before the end of the day.
Suga’s appointment, two days after he was selected as LDP leader, brings the curtain down on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s record run of almost eight consecutive years in the country’s top job. The 71-year-old Suga, who previously served as Abe’s right-hand man, has pledged to keep in place his former boss’s flexible fiscal stance and ultra-easy monetary policy known as “Abenomics.”
While Suga has pledged to pick reformers for his cabinet, Kyodo News and other media reports say he has already decided to retain key players Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, a veteran political broker, will also stay in place under the new administration, the party announced Tuesday.
Speculation about an early general election has simmered following a surge in support for the cabinet. Suga has repeatedly said it would be difficult to hold a vote while the coronavirus outbreak is still spreading. The power to dissolve parliament for a general election lies with the prime minister, and none need be held for another year.
Suga has been outspoken on some specific issues, including the need for more competition among mobile phone providers to reduce costs for households. He has said Japan has too many regional financial institutions, and he is a strong proponent of introducing casino resorts to bolster tourism.
While Suga has little direct experience in diplomacy, he has said that Japan’s alliance with the U.S. will remain the cornerstone of its foreign policy and that he wants to maintain stable ties with China, his country’s biggest trading partner.
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