Fumio Kishida set to be next Japan PM after winning ruling party leadership


Japan’s former top diplomat Fumio Kishida, a soft-spoken centrist, has defeated popular vaccine chief Taro Kono in an unusually close race to succeed PM Yoshihide Suga.

 Japan’s former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has won the governing party leadership election and is set to become the next prime minister.

 Kishida replaces outgoing party leader Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is stepping down after serving only one year since taking office last September.

 As new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Kishida is certain to be elected the next prime minister on Monday in parliament, where his party and coalition partner control the house.

Kishida beat Taro Kono, the vaccinations minister, in a runoff after moving ahead of two female candidates Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda in the first round. 

The new leader needs to change the party’s high-handed reputation, worsened by the outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga who angered the public over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and insistence on holding the Olympics in Tokyo past summer.

 The long-ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party desperately needs to quickly turn around plunging public support ahead of lower house elections coming within two months, observers say.