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September 1, 2020

Asia

JAPAN: Abe’s resignation leaves successor to face a challenging policy agenda

BY Tobias Harris

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( 3 mins)

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s executive council formally decided on Tuesday, 1 September, on the timing and method for selecting a leader to succeed Shinzo Abe as LDP president and prime minister. As expected, the party fended off calls from some younger lawmakers and prefectural chapters to hold an open vote – in which lawmakers and prefectural chapters would cast equal numbers of votes and the chapters would use a vote among dues-paying members to decide how to vote. It will instead select its next leader through a closed vote that will be dominated by lawmakers. The result is that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s selection as Abe’s successor is increasingly assured, as the LDP’s factions – with the exception of the factions headed by rival candidates Shigeru Ishiba and Fumio Kishida – have lined up behind Suga.

JAPAN: Abe’s resignation leaves successor to face a challenging policy agenda 1

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s executive council formally decided on Tuesday, 1 September, on the timing and method for selecting a leader to succeed Shinzo Abe as LDP president and prime minister. As expected, the party fended off calls from some younger lawmakers and prefectural chapters to hold an open vote – in which lawmakers and prefectural chapters would cast equal numbers of votes and the chapters would use a vote among dues-paying members to decide how to vote. It will instead select its next leader through a closed vote that will be dominated by lawmakers. The result is that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s selection as Abe’s successor is increasingly assured, as the LDP’s factions – with the exception of the factions headed by rival candidates Shigeru Ishiba and Fumio Kishida – have lined up behind Suga.

JAPAN: Abe’s resignation leaves successor to face a challenging policy agenda 2

Party chapters from across Japan have expressed their dissatisfaction at having their influence reduced; in a normal vote they would command as many votes between them as the party’s lawmakers. Some have already indicated that they will try to hold votes that would enable their branch’s supporters to decide who the prefecture should back. Rank-and-file voting could propel Ishiba to a distant second-place finish, but, beyond that, it could signal a legitimacy challenge that Suga would have to manage after taking office.

After the vote is held on 14 September, the Diet would then convene to choose a new prime minister. The LDP is negotiating with the opposition to open the legislature on 16 September, at which point a new cabinet would take office. With Suga’s lead seemingly insurmountable, attention will likely shift to the composition of the cabinet in the two weeks leading up to the start of the next premiership.

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