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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns, clearing way for successor

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns, clearing way for successor”

Yoshihide Suga - now the chief cabinet secretary, who is widely considered to be a close confidant to the PM - was selected on Monday to replace Abe as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and is all but ensured to secure confirmation on Wednesday, given the party's parliamentary majority.

"According to the results, our house has chose to name Yoshihide Suga prime minister", lower house speaker Tadamori Oshima told parliament after the votes were counted.

Suga is set to win a parliamentary vote for prime minister later Wednesday following his election as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday.

He bowed deeply as politicians applauded following the announcement, but made no immediate comment.

Katsunobu Kato, outgoing health minister and a close Suga ally, is expected to become chief cabinet secretary. He will succeed Shinzo Abe, who has resigned over health issues.

Abe is ending his record-breaking tenure with a year left in his mandate, forced out by a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, a condition that has long plagued him. Suga served under him in the pivotal post of chief cabinet secretary.

He has also been the face of the government, doggedly defending its policies as spokesman, including in sometimes testy exchanges with journalists.

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He says he will push forward Abe's policies to deal with the coronavirus and revitalize the economy. More of the same, he says.

Suga has been a loyal supporter since Abe's first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

Media reports say some key ministers, including Finance Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, will stay.

Abe's younger brother, Nobuo Kishi, is likely to be tapped for the defence portfolio, while outgoing Defence Minister Taro Kono will take charge of administrative reform, a post he has held before.

"I devoted my body and soul for the economic recovery and diplomacy to protect Japan's national interest every single day since we returned to power", Abe told reporters ahead of the meeting.

There has been speculation that Suga could call a snap election to consolidate his position and avoid being seen as a caretaker prime minister, but he has been circumspect on the prospect.



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