This op-ed by Kiyoteru Tsutsui originally appeared in the Nikkei Asian Review.
When asked about his favorite historical figure at a recent Liberal Democratic Party presidential election debate, Yoshihide Suga picked Hidenaga Toyotomi, the younger brother of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of Japan's most iconic historical figures known for uniting the country in the 16th century.
A much less recognized figure, Hidenaga was Hideyoshi's right-hand man who managed a ragtag group of ambitious and fiery vassals and played a key role in guiding Hideyoshi's ascent to the top. The parallel is obvious. Much like Hidenaga was to Hideyoshi, Suga has been the point man behind Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister who recently announced his resignation for health reasons.
Elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday, Suga will officially take center stage as Japan's next Prime Minister on Wednesday, when he is formally chosen as prime minister at an extraordinary Diet session. The question now is whether the 71-year-old chief cabinet secretary is ready to lead the world's third-largest economy and what will be his policy focus?