Yoshihide Suga, the newly chosen leader of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, will retain Taro Aso as finance minister and deputy prime minister after his expected election as prime minister later this week, Nikkei has learned.
Suga repeatedly has praised Abe's diplomacy and economic policies when asked about what he would like to accomplish as prime minister.
Suga's victory in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party vote virtually guarantees his election in a parliamentary vote Wednesday because of the majority held by the LDP's ruling coalition.
On his successor as chief Cabinet secretary, who acts as the top government spokesman, Suga said he would name someone who is "well-rounded".
© Thomson Reuters Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga gestures during his regular news conference at the Prime Minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, September 14, 2020.
On August 28, Shinzo Abe announced that he would resign due to health problems.
Suga has earned a reputation for wielding his power to control Japan's sprawling and powerful bureaucracy and help push through government policies. Suga, the son of a strawberry grower, said in his victory speech: "I will devote all of myself to work for the nation and the people". Instead, he headed to Tokyo, where he became a self-made politician, a rarity in Japan's largely hereditary business of politics - and a change from Abe, the scion of a political dynasty.
He made reference to his background in accepting the party's nomination as leader, saying he "started from zero".
Suga has been a loyal supporter of Abe since Abe's first time as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.
He has said that his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around a Japanese economy battered by the pandemic.
Yoshihide Suga, who is set to become Japan's next prime minister, is considering appointing health minister Katsunobu Kato as Chief Cabinet Secretary while retaining others in key cabinet posts, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
While Abe ignored the advice, prompting regional anger and a rare United States rebuke, he has not repeated the trip, even as members of his cabinet have visited.
Experts say Suga is pragmatic rather than ideological, and he is seen by lawmakers along the political spectrum within the LDP as a neutral figure. On May 1, 2019, Japan entered a new era after Emperor Akihito stepped down to make way for his son, Naruhito.
It was Suga who unveiled the much-awaited name for the era: Reiwa. While he has confessed to a weakness for pancakes, he reportedly burns off the extra calories by beginning and ending each day with 100 sit-ups.