Japan’s parliament has elected Fumio Kishida as the country’s new prime minister. He replaces his party colleague Yoshihide Suga, who resigned after being in power for about a year.
As Prime Minister, 64-year-old Kishida has to deal with all kinds of challenges at home and abroad. These include the corona pandemic, the ageing of the Japanese population and the sometimes complicated relationship with China.
Former Prime Minister Suga (72) was under fire in Japan for his corona policy. He eventually decided not to stand for re-election and to make way for a fellow party member. Kishida then defeated several opponents in the battle for leadership of his party, including popular minister Taro Kono. He directs the Japanese vaccination program.
Kishida’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party currently dominates parliament. He received 311 votes in the lower house in the vote on the premiership, compared to 124 for opposition leader Yukio Edano. The Japanese broadcaster NHK reports that Kishida plans to call new parliamentary elections immediately. They should be done in a few weeks.
Kishida has in the past been Minister of Foreign Affairs, among other things. In that role, according to NHK, he organized the first visit by a sitting US president to Hiroshima, which was destroyed by an American atomic bomb during World War II. Then-President Barack Obama visited the city in 2016.