Suga's journey from 'shadow' prime minister to Japan's 63rd PM

Updated: 17 September, 2020 09:39 IST | Agencies | Tokyo

Suga has said his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around a Japanese economy battered by the pandemic

Yoshihide Suga. Pic/AFP
Yoshihide Suga. Pic/AFP

Before he got Japan's top government job officially, Yoshihide Suga, 71, was known as "a "shadow" prime minister and the right-hand man for his long-serving predecessor.

When Shinzo Abe announced last month he would resign due to ill health. His chief Cabinet secretary Suga said he would come forward to pursue Abe's unfinished work. The self-made politician was elected by Parliament on Wednesday as Japan's 63rd PM. Suga's low-key image from government briefings contrast with his behind-the-scenes work at managing bureaucrats and pushing policies.

Read: Yoshihide Suga elected as Japan's Prime Minister

As the chief Cabinet spokesman under Abe, the straight-faced Suga offered bland commentary at twice-daily televised news briefings highlighted last year when he became known as "Uncle Reiwa" in unveiling Emperor Naruhito's imperial era name. But behind the scenes, Suga is known for his stubbornness, an iron-fist approach as a policy coordinator and influencing bureaucrats by using the power of the prime minister's office, leading political watchers to call him the "shadow prime minister."

Some bureaucrats who opposed his policies have said they were removed from government projects or transferred to another posts. Suga himself recently said he would continue to do so. Suga was a loyal supporter of Abe since Abe's first stint as PM from 2006 to 2007, and he helped Abe return to power in 2012 and become Japan's longest-serving prime minister. Suga has said his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around a Japanese economy battered by the pandemic.

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First Published: 17 September, 2020 07:43 IST

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