Outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves to staff as he leaves the prime minister's office Wednesday. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko

Abe and cabinet resign, clearing way for successor


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet resigned, clearing the way for his successor to take over after parliamentary confirmation later Wednesday.

Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, announced last month that he was stepping down because of health problems.

"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 at the prime minister's office before heading into his final cabinet meeting. "During this time, I was able to tackle various challenges together with the people, and I'm proud of myself."

He said his health is improving thanks to treatment and that he, as a lawmaker, will support his successor-to-be, Yoshihide Suga, from now on. He also thanked the people for their understanding and strong support for the upcoming leadership under Suga.

Suga, Chief Cabinet sSecretary for Abe's government and long seen as his right-hand man, was chosen Monday as the new head of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, virtually guaranteeing his election as prime minister in a parliamentary vote Wednesday because of the party's majority.

Suga, a self-made politician and the son of a strawberry grower in the northern prefecture of Akita, has stressed his background in promising to serve the interests of ordinary people and rural communities.

He has said he will pursue Abe's unfinished policies, and that his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around an economy battered by the pandemic. He gained the support of party heavyweights and their followers early in the campaign on expectations he would continue Abe's line.

Suga has been a loyal supporter of Abe since Abe's first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007. Abe's tenure ended abruptly because of illness, and Suga helped him return as prime minister in 2012.

Abe, 65, has ulcerative colitis and his current treatment requires IV injections. He said last month his condition has improved but, facing ongoing treatment and physical weakness, he decided to resign.

Suga has praised Abe's diplomacy and economic policies when asked about what he would like to accomplish as prime minister.

Suga, who does not belong to any wing within the party and opposes factionalism, says he is a reformer who will break down vested interests and rules that hamper reforms. He says he will set up a new government agency to speed up Japan's lagging digital transformation.

In a reshuffle of the ruling party key posts, however, Suga evenly allocated top posts to key factions, a balancing act seen as a return of favor for their support in the leadership race.

Suga said he will appoint "reform-minded, hard-working people" to the new cabinet, to be launched later Wednesday. About half of the members in the Abe cabinet are expected to be retained or shifted to different ministerial posts.

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 reportedly tapped as defense minister, replacing Taro Kono who is expected be shifted to administrative reforms minister.

Compared to his political prowess at home, Suga has hardly traveled overseas and his diplomatic skills are unknown, though he is largely expected to pursue Abe's priorities.

The new prime minister will inherit a range of challenges, including relations with China, which continues its assertive actions in the contested East China Sea, and what to do with the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to next summer due to the coronavirus. And he will have to establish a good relationship with whomever wins the U.S. presidential race.

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Change in leadership and cabinet after a long term PM is a good ethically, it brings new faces, new perspectives of different people.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

The cabinet moved chairs, Abe moved chairs resignation usually implies you go home find a new job. Not still get a wage while getting a new chair.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Abe is free to go to his court cases now.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Dont forget to take Aso off with you !

10 ( +11 / -1 )

it brings new faces , new perspectives

The recycled septuagenarian men coming in are definitely not new faces with new perspectives, thats the problem!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Let all the grandpas run the country!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Meet the new ossan, same as the old ossan

9 ( +10 / -1 )

We'll never forget you, Abe Shintaro!

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

It was so uplifting to see one bunch of old foggies replaced by another bunch of old foggies.

Dynamic japan

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Clearing the way for a new administration, that's got to be a joke. A massive enima for politics might do it, not this. Same old faces. I would suggest a new bag of sultanas.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Out with the old in with the older...

I see massive changes happening!

New policies! An end to corruption and cronyism! A dynamic forward thinking cabinet of the people!

Only kidding! same old same old in Japan under the LDP.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

What is a 'self made politician'?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Abe resigned because of many unsolved scandals, not his chronic sickness. It seems to me he covered his all scandals with his sickness. One bureaucrat committed suicide and his wife accuses the government of his death. Abe thought government may lose it as there is a suicide note showing everything.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

“Abe and cabinet resign”

At last...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

 "During this time, I was able to tackle various challenges together with the people, and I'm proud of myself."

What would be the original for "I'm proud of myself." It's not an expression you often hear in Japanese.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Compared to his political prowess at home, Suga has hardly traveled overseas and his diplomatic skills are unknown, though he is largely expected to pursue Abe's priorities.

Suga is a permanent country hick man. I can imagine Suga is pushed around by Trump's requests about Japan and US security and trade matters. In this point Abe seems much better than Suga.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Politics apart, I wish Abe all the best for his future, and to get healthier soon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

During this time, I was able to tackle various challenges together with the people, and I'm proud of myself."

Proud of yourself for what? Not having you or your cronies tossed in jail and becoming the longest serving PM along with accomplishing nothing?

Pretty low standards!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

...Abe Mario has gone, and Joker coming soon!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Deck chairs, meet Titanic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

With the exception of the one woman Abe is walking past the only other women in the photo are standing at the back looking like the back office support staff they probably are. Now why doesn't that surprise me?

Anyone of them is probably smarter and more tuned in to the lives of everyday people than the muppets up front.

Another 10 years and Japan will wonder why countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia will have surpassed them in GDP.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Raised consumption tax, cut company tax, helped the rich, teased the poor, cheated on Moritomo school issue, swindled much money, pushed Go To Travel amid pandemic, leaving the chair saying he's sick...

These are some of what he's done.

He doesn't deserve applause.

Those flowers are for doctors and nurses.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rats jumping ship before more scandals come out!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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