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Who’s The New Leader Of Japan?

September 18, 2020

Here’s a question to ponder: What happens when the leader of a country decides to resign?

Former Prime Minister Of Japan Shinzo Abe
Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Tokyo / CC0

Last month, the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, announced that he would be resigning because of his health. As with any leader who announces that he or she will be stepping down, it’s big news. After all, who’ll take over? For Japan, it’s been nearly eight years since the National Diet (or the Japanese parliament) has had to choose a leader. That’s right—Abe has been prime minister since December 26th, 2012, making him the longest-serving prime minister of Japan since the end of World War II. And while some of his policies didn’t always sit well with the people of Japan, he represented stability in the country. Who, then, could fill these big and stable shoes? Snap election time? Well, no. In Japan, the prime minister is chosen by parliamentarians, not the people. Earlier this week, the National Diet chose Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga to be the next prime minister of Japan.

Prime Minister Of Japan Yoshihide Suga
Office of the Prime Minister of Japan / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

While he worked as Abe’s right-hand man, his background could not be more different than his former boss’s. Abe comes from a well-connected political family, whereas Suga was the son of farmers and grew up in a small rural prefecture of Japan. Suga worked odd jobs to pay his way through college. When he decided he wanted to run for city councilman of Yokohama, he didn’t have the political connections that his opponent did. Instead, he went door-to-door to convince the people of Yokohama that he would be the right person for the job. All that hard work paid off because Suga won. And the rest—as they say—is history. Congratulations, Prime Minister Suga!

Interesting Fact: From 2007 to 2012, Japan had a different leader every year!