Written by Priyanshi, grade 11 student
Yoshihide Suga, is the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan. He replaced Mr. Shinzo Abe as Mr. Abe decided to step down from his post owing to ill health on the 28th of August, 2020. Mr.Suga aims at continuing and achieving the goals and works of Mr.Abe.
Why is Mr. Suga called a ‘Self-Made Man’?
Unlike Mr.Abe and many other Japanese politicians, Mr.Suga did not know anyone in politics when he started. His background was not in politics – he was the son of a prosperous strawberry farmer, and owing to his hard work he reached a position of success. However, he has been unable to solve many problems due to the lack of any past connection to or roots in the politics of Japan.
Why Yoshihide Saga?
Yoshihide Suga was a close ally of Mr. Abe and held the position of Chief Cabinet Secretary under Mr.Abe’s government. He was also called Mr. Abe’s right hand and was comfortable in the shadows of Mr. Abe’s spotlight.
During Mr. Abe’s term as Prime Minister, from July 2006 to December 2012, Mr. Suga was at his side and helped him to execute several policies. Suga’s achievements as Mr. Abe’s Chief Cabinet Secretary included getting telecommunication companies to drop extensive mobile phone fees along with the opening of borders of Japan to a greater number of foreign workers. In matters of trade, he helped negotiate an important trade deal with the EU and helped in keeping the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a trade zone alive.
Mr. Suga’s selection was made by the Japanese Parliament (known as the ‘National Diet’) after which he was officially appointed by the Emperor of Japan.
What will Mr.Suga do now?
Japanese and other international observers are now asking whether the Abe government’s economic policy course will change significantly, under Mr.Suga, and if so, how? It is unclear whether Mr. Suga will choose to ride out the rest of what would have been Mr. Abe’s term until next year or go to the polls sooner to win a popular mandate. What is less predictable is Mr. Suga’s ultimate fate in the history books: will he join the blur of forgettable short-lived Prime Ministers or will he emerge as a person who leaves his mark for a long time in the political history of Japan.
Mr.Suga aims to reduce mobile phone rates, restructure the regional banks and encourage further digitization of the economy. In environmental policies, Mr.Suga is likely to restart the nuclear power plants and build new coal-fired power plants. As Prime Minister, Mr. Suga will have to keep and complete his promises for continuity and stability. Mr. Suga takes over at a time when the administration’s handling of the Covid–19 pandemic is widely considered as confusing and the Japanese economy is in serious trouble. He now undertakes a head-on challenge of keeping Covid–19 under control.
(FUN FACT: Mr.Suga is famous for terming the name of the current era of Japan’s official calendar called ‘Reiwa’ which means ‘beautiful harmony’. It began from the 1st of May, 2019 and therefore 2019 is to be taken as the first year in the era of Japan)
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