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Yoshihide Suga set to become Japanese prime minister after party vote

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Yoshihide Suga will become Japan's next prime minister
Yoshihide Suga will become Japan's next prime minister   -   Copyright  Nicolas Datiche/SIPA
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Yoshihide Suga has been elected leader of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, a move that largely guarantees that he will become the country's next prime minister.

The party election came after Shinzo Abe stepped down due to health concerns. Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, resigned two weeks ago due to a chronic health condition.

Suga is currently the chief Cabinet secretary of Abe's government and will likely become prime minister in a parliamentary election on Wednesday since the majority in parliament is held by the Liberal Democratic Party's coalition.

The 71-year-old received 377 votes in the election to pick Abe's successor.

The other two contenders received a combined 157 votes: former foreign minister Fumio Kishida got 89 and former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba had 68.

Suga is largely expected to continue Abe's policies and although at home he's known for getting jobs done, his diplomacy skills are unknown.

Suga has said his priorities are managing the coronavirus pandemic and tackling its devastating effects on the economy.

Some criticised the closed-door approach to the party election as Suga's victory appeared to be a done deal prior to the vote. He had gained support from party heavyweights early in the campaign.