Tokyo, Sep 14 (IANS) Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was on Monday elected as the new leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), replacing outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced his resignation last month due to health issues, from the top post.
The 71-year-old is now expected to win a vote at an extraordinary Diet session on Wednesday to become Prime Minister, the country’s national broadcaster NHK reported.
Suga was elected at a joint plenary meeting of party members from both houses of the Diet (Parliament) and delegates from local chapter, reports Xinhua news agency.
In the scaled-down vote, 394 Diet members cast their ballots.
A total of 141 votes were cast by three delegates each from the country’s 47 prefectural chapters.
Besides Suga, the two other candidates in the fray were Shigeru Ishiba, 63, a former Defence Minister, and Fumio Kishida, 63, the LDP’s policy chief.
Under normal circumstances, the top leader of the LDP would be chosen with Diet members belonging to the party and rank-and-file members holding 394 votes each.
However, due to Abe’s resignation in the middle of his term and the Covid-19 pandemic, the LDP decided to hold an abridged version of presidential election to simplify the process and to avoid a political vacuum.
On August 28, Abe, Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister, abruptly announced his intent to resign citing his chronic illness, but said he would remain in power until a successor was chosen.
In his announcement, the premier said that he needed to be treated for a flare-up of his intestinal disease that led his first one-year stint to end abruptly in 2007.
After stepping down in 2007 over a medical issue, he returned to the top job in 2012 after a landslide election win in the Lower House.
Abe, prior to his health condition, was set to spend one more year at the helm.