Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence on Wednesday night. Photo: Carl Court/Pool via AP
politics

Suga says he is committed to advancing Abe's policies

35 Comments

Yoshihide Suga took office as Japan's first new prime minister in nearly eight years on Wednesday, forming a cabinet of familiar faces to stay the course set by his predecessor Shinzo Abe.

Suga, 71, comes to the top job at a time when the country is grappling with an economy battered by the novel coronavirus, while longer-term challenges include the country's falling birth rate and simmering tensions with Asian neighbors.

"During such a national crisis, a political vacuum must be avoided at all costs," Suga said at his first press conference as prime minister. "For all the people to restore peace to their lives, I will continue and push forward the Abe administration's policies. I recognize that is a mission given to me."

Suga, elected by parliament after becoming head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party two days ago, vowed to balance preventing a rise in infections with resuming economic and social activity, saying it was crucial to keep businesses going and protect jobs.

He said the COVID-19 outbreak had demonstrated the need for the government to use digital technology more efficiently, and that a new agency would be created to take the lead on the task.

The son of a farmer who unlike Abe and many other lawmakers in Japan is not the scion of a political dynasty, Suga promised to push ahead with administrative reforms "to shatter bureaucratic sectionalism, vested interests and bad precedents" that are hindering the government.

Suga said he is committed to advancing Abe's policies including "Abenomics," a mix of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reform aimed at beating deflation and putting the world's third-largest economy on a growth track.

At 71 years and 9 months, Suga is the oldest prime minister to take office since Kiichi Miyazawa in 1991, a fact belied by his notorious work ethic. Suga says he keeps fit by taking 40-minute walks and doing 100 sit-ups every morning.

Aside from tackling the short-term economic damage that the coronavirus has caused by forcing people to stay home and wiping out tourism from overseas virtually overnight, Suga will be tasked with stemming the country's falling birth rate and improving its dismal fiscal health.

The consumption tax will eventually need to be raised from the current 10 percent to cover swelling social security costs, Suga said last week, though he later walked back those comments by saying a hike would not be necessary within the next decade.

In the press conference on Wednesday, Suga reaffirmed his promise to make fertility treatment eligible to be covered by national health insurance and to take steps to revive regional economies that have shriveled along with the graying population.

Japan's security alliance with the United States will remain the foundation of its foreign policy, he said, while also seeking to maintain "stable relations" with neighboring countries including China and Russia, both of which have territorial disputes with Tokyo.

The new leader also renewed his determination to continue working toward securing the return of Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

Asked by a reporter whether he plans to call an election soon to gain a strong public mandate, Suga said there is not much time until the end of the lower house members' current term in October 2021, and that would be a factor in any decision he makes on the matter.

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35 Comments
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With only 10% women in his Cabinet, he's machine-gunned Womenomics.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

...stay the course set by his predecessor Shinzo Abe.

Because you can't fix stupid.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

The quickest way to beating deflation is to give everyone a pay rise. The other quick way is to immediately stop importing excess capacity from China and introduce tariffs, reshore manufacturing and diversify supply chain and value adding chain. Reverse pass mistakes.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Abe is a loser and I can't believe that Suga wants to be another downer to waste Japanese time.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

"Suga says he is committed to to advancing Abe's policies"

No way, completely blindsided, totally didn't see this coming.../s

Didn't someone on here call this yesterday? You know, Abe just being in the back but still pulling the strings?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

As long he takes a strong against Chinese aggression

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Such a sad state of affairs.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

He is tower of strength at 71 ! 100 sit ups in the morning and evening !

Always exudes happiness and that good feeling!

Continuing the 'Abenomix' policy such flair and new ideas!

sigh...heaven help us!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Suga says he keeps fit by taking 40-minute walks and doing 100 sit-ups every morning.

Maybe he can showcase his manliness by letting some of his detractors punch him in the stomach.

"For all the people to restore peace to their lives, I will continue and push forward the Abe administration's policies. I recognize that is a mission given to me."

HOW do you RESTORE peace to a nation reeling from bad policies by CONTINUING those exact same policies?! By basically being a different cheek of the same backside??

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The amount of propaganda pieces about this man tells me he has nothing to offer. As above 8 years, the shadow PM, 8 years of promises, urges all came to less than nothing in fact the total opposite of what we were told, and his idea is to continue this, shadow is right it's now blocking any chance of sunshine.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

So he’s committed to getting nothing done. Just a bump a on a log making no progress. We’ve seen that plenty.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I think he is only here short term until the next snap elections, but yeah he looks like a toadie.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

to use digital technology more efficiently

As long as you have these old, brain-locked managers in top positions at japanese companies, who believe in "Stamp-system" and "as more papers you have on your as more a hard worker you are"... nothing will change.

And I agree with "gaicuckojin"

As long he takes a strong against Chinese aggression

I hope Suga will keep a strong stance against China's aggression and bullying.

And keep travelers from mainland China out of Japan until a safe vaccine against COVID 19 is found!

But Japan needs the money from the chinese travelers, so the borders will be open soon to them.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

He said the COVID-19 outbreak had demonstrated the need for the government to use digital technology more efficiently, and that a new agency would be created to take the lead on the task.

Really?

Is this the very best he can come up with?

Digital technology?

Not testing more people nor the timely testing and anti virus precautions that the Ministry of Health just failed to initiate?

Maybe, the almost 30% drop in GDP could have been avoided by the mixed messages of staying at home and now going to travel?

How about having a leading virologist lead a task force to advise the people instead of ad hoc hand rubbing and baby face masks?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

So....that means to..to be dumber....like Dumb and Dumber..

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

There is a bunch more fluff pieces on JT today on Suga, its getting silly by now.

Since he has admitted he will be nothing, what not just leave the position open & save some $$ until fall 2021 election.....just a thought

2 ( +4 / -2 )

He has not yet done a single thing as prime minister yet and I'm already disappointed.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

This just guarantees that Suganomics will have the same outcome as Abenomics. Especially since his Ministers are almost exactly the same. So sad, as this was a chance for some real consequential reform.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Suga says he is committed to to advancing Abe's policies

to..to advancing with a..a little..not much.. c..confidence

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

He said the COVID-19 outbreak had demonstrated the need for the government to use digital technology more efficiently,

Suga promised to push ahead with administrative reforms "to shatter bureaucratic sectionalism, vested interests and bad precedents" that are hindering the government.

I really want to see how they work.

His policies will be a right direction

so I think it’s not necessary to resolve the lower house in a year

It would cost over ¥60 billion for the general election

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So, pretty much, nothing really changes in Japan. Just the usual "pass the gavel" in government.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think he is only here short term until the next snap elections, but yeah he looks like a toadie.

I thought more like Yoda from Star Wars.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Suga seems to have as much charisma as elephant hide. Too bad the LDP couldn’t find someone with the full set of attributes needed in a PM, which begs the question whether there will be a succession of short-lived PMs, once again.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

How about that? As expected, he chooses to follow Abe's line, and he is game to walk again in the shadow of someone else..

As it is, no need to look forward to any surprising change from Suga.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That's why Abe chose him, and the LDP disenfranchised its own members to make it so. Apart from censoring the media, Suga has no policies of his own.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And when Suga turned around to walk off stage Abe was seen with his hand stretched up the man’s behind, operating him.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I feel sorry for the people of Japan...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Of course he’s going to follow Abe’s policies; he’s been manipulating politicians for eight years to get Abe’s policies in place. And look at his success rate! Wonderful, right?

On the other hand, he often starts a statement with something like “this administration (cabinet) will work for the good of the people” indicating the last administration (Abe’s) didn’t.

It will be wonderful to watch if Suga (71) modernizes the gov’t bureaucracy into the 20th century with this new-fangled “digital technology.” Will he really want to match power points with the hanko-cartel? It will be great to watch.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And for the other side of the coin.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/yoshihide-suga-japans-ruthless-new-pm-is-a-control-freak-who-muzzled-the-press

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Prime Minister by proxy, Suga is a puppet and the strings are in Abe's hands.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In the end, a farmer's son will always be a farmer's son. They won't let him be anything more than that and he knows it...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I do not think Abe resigned due to his health problems. He knew he had to go, he was having to many problems. If he stayed, LDP might go down. So for the good of the party he left. The opposition is weak, so if they have snap elections now, LDP will win.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Being part of the same party as Abe won’t make Suga anything novel ....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How do you advance something going backwards?

i guess physics wasn’t taught way, way, way back then.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I really hope Suga was just saying he'd continue Abe's plans while actually intending to go a better way just to get through...

Otherwise, the forecast is more political and economic weakness.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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