Japan to Choose Abe’s Successor While Trump Hails him as the Best PM

Japan is expecting a new Prime Minister (PM) in nearly two weeks after the incumbent premier, Shinzo Abe announced on Friday, August 28, 2020, that he has decided to step down from his current position due to health issues. As many local media report on Monday, August 31, 2020, the country’s ruling party, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) plans to hold voting to choose a new party leader, who will become Abe’s successor.

However, it is obvious that Abe’s successor has an array of daunting tasks from economic to security issues besides the urgent need for a robust policy to fight the widespread COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the growing China-United States (US) tensions, Japan remains a strategic partner for security in the Asian region and a valuable ally for the US.

Some government officials claimed that the relationship and alliance between Washington-Tokyo would be remained intact even after Abe’s leaving the office. US President Donald Trump has praised Abe in a tweet on Sunday as Japan’s best head of government ever.

Who will be Abe’s successor?

Abe (65), Japan’s longest-serving premier who holds the current position since 2012, apologized to the Japanese people for his decision to step down from the country’s highest post before completing the tenure.

Abe confessed with a bow on Friday, “I made a judgment I should not continue my job as a prime minister” and added, “I would like to sincerely apologize to the people of Japan for leaving my post with one year left in my term of office, and amid the coronavirus woes, while various policies are still in the process of being implemented.”

Reflecting on the existing threat of pandemic in the country, the party leaders with the electorate restricted to members of parliament and heads of the regional parties will execute a speedy selection process. As per Reuter’s reports, four possible candidates are aiming for the position that includes the former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and current Defence Minister Taro Kono.

Under the parliamentary political system, the PM is elected by the ministers of the ruling party. So, the new leader of the current ruling party, LDP will become the next PM since the party has a majority in the lower house of parliament.

Japan-US Relationship

Speaking to reporters, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Akihiro Nishimura said that Abe and Trump had a 30-minute telephone call on Monday. Referring to Abe’s call, Nishimura said, “He wants President Trump to rest assured because the policy of bolstering the Japan-U.S. alliance will remain unchanged.”

On late Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Shinzo will soon be recognized as the greatest Prime Minister in the history of Japan, whose relationship with the USA is the best it has ever been. Special man.”

According to a White House spokesman, Judd Deere, “The two leaders remarked that their relationship is extraordinary; the President called Prime Minister Abe the greatest prime minister in Japan’s history,” reflecting the recent telephonic conversation. Deere said in a statement that Trump stated that Abe had done a “fantastic job” and that the relationship between the two countries was stronger than ever.

Japan under the Abe government has been a key partner with the Trump administration and both governments have expanded their bilateral relationship significantly in areas ranging from trade to security. From North Korea issues to current US-China tension, the two countries extended their cooperation and forged a strategic understanding to deal with these issues together.