Former Diplomat Fumio Kishida officially elected Japan's 100th prime minister

TOKYO: Fumio Kishida was officially elected as Japan's 100th prime minister on Monday after winning a majority of votes in both houses of parliament. Kishida will face an economy battered by the pandemic, security threats from China and North Korea and leadership of a political party whose popularity is sagging ahead of a fast-approaching crucial national election.

He replaces Yoshihide Suga, who resigned after only one year in office as his support plunged over his government's handling of the pandemic and insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics as the virus spread.

A former foreign minister, Kishida, 64, used to be known as a moderate but turned hawkish on security and more conservative on gender equality and other issues, apparently to show loyalty to influential conservatives in the Liberal Democratic Party and win their support. He is firmly entrenched in the conservative establishment, and his victory in last week's vote to replace Suga as the party's leader was a choice for continuity and stability over change.

Kishida is hopefully to make a policy dialogue in Parliament on Friday but is looking to dissolve the lower house to hold elections on Oct. 31, Japanese media reported. Observers see the early date as a move to take advantage of his government's fresh image to rally support.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo were retained, ensuring continuity of Japan’s diplomacy and security policies as the country seeks to closely work with Washington under the bilateral security pact in the face of China’s rise and growing tensions in the region, including around Taiwan.

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