Fumio Kishida Beats Taro Kono to Become Japan's Next Prime Minister

foreignpolicy.com
7 min read
fairly difficult
Kishida's victory asserts the power of party insiders as the popular Taro Kono loses out.
Here is today's Foreign Policy brief: Fumio Kishida wins race to become Japan's next prime minister, U.S. and EU officials hold trade and technology talks , and Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.

Here is today's Foreign Policy brief: Fumio Kishida wins race to become Japan's next prime minister, U.S. and EU officials hold trade and technology talks, and Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.

Kishida To Become Japan's Next Prime Minister

Japan's ruling Liberal Democrat Party has backed Fumio Kishida as its new leader, effectively making him prime minister-in-waiting for the world's third largest economy.

Kishida, a former foreign minister, won out in a highly contested election, beating Taro Kono in a runoff vote on Wednesday afternoon in Tokyo after the two had virtually tied in the first round of voting. His inauguration as prime minister is now assured, as the LDP holds a comfortable majority in Japan's House of Representatives.

The vote comes just over a year after Yoshihide Suga rose to the pinnacle of the party following Shinzo Abe's resignation. Suga announced his plans to step down earlier this month as his cabinet's sinking approval rating risked damaging the party in upcoming elections.

Suga's experience is a cautionary tale for Kishida: After a strong start, perception of Suga's government steadily soured, driven by public anger over the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics and a surge in coronavirus cases.

Party power. Kishida's rise comes at the expense of Kono, who had been the popular favorite in opinion polls. Although Kono won over the party's rank and file in today's contest, Kishida ultimately benefitted from LDP party rules favoring elected members in the event of a runoff.

Kishida's challenges. Although likely to pursue similar economic policies to his predecessors, Kishida is thought to be more moderate than some in his party when it comes to…
Colm Quinn
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