Commentary September 21, 2020

Five Ways in Which Japan's New Prime Minister Suga is Different From Abe

Yoshihide Suga has promised to continue many of Shinzo Abe's policies and goals, but APARC's Japan Program Director Kiyoteru Tsutsui explains how Suga's background, experience, and political vision differ from the previous administration.
Suga Yoshihide at a press conference at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters.
Suga Yoshihide at a press conference at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. Getty Images

This article by Kiyoteru Tsutsui and Charles Crabtree was originally published in The Hill.



On Sept. 16, Yoshihide Suga was elected as Japan’s 99th prime minister, following the country’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Suga was Abe’s right-hand man, serving as the chief cabinet secretary and achieving the longest tenure in Japanese history for this position. Now as prime minister, Suga is widely expected to continue many of Abe’s policies and has publicly vowed to do so. 

True to his words, his cabinet appointments include many holdovers, and his policy pronouncements so far demonstrate few deviations from Abe’s agenda, which Suga helped shape. Suga will first focus on measures to address health and economic setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and then will pursue other goals such as regulatory reform, digitalization to improve efficiency in government agencies, and the reorganization of small firms and local banks to increase their productivity. 

None of these is a radically new idea and, at least initially, Suga is unlikely to steer Japan away from the direction that Abe set over the past seven years and eight months. However, there are some key differences between the two men that could produce different electoral and policy outcomes for Suga’s administration.

Continue reading this article in The Hill >>

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