Suga wins Japan's LDP leadership election, set to be next prime minister
Updated 20:31, 14-Sep-2020

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga won the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s leadership election on Monday and will ultimately be Japan's new leader, replacing outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

Suga won by a large margin over his two rivals Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister, and Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister. In the final result, Suga won 377 votes, Kishida 89 and Ishiba 68 out of a total of 534 votes.

The winner of the LDP race is almost certain to be elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday because of the LDP's majority in the lower house. Suga will serve out Abe's term as party leader through September 2021.

Suga, who is 71, has said he would pursue Shinzo Abe's key economic and foreign policies.

"I made a late decision to run, but before I knew it I was out in front," Suga told supporters. "I would like to create a government that's trusted by the people and continue to fight COVID-19 and economic recessions."

Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leadership election in Tokyo, September 14, 2020. /AP

Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leadership election in Tokyo, September 14, 2020. /AP

Under normal circumstances, the top leader of the LDP would be chosen with Diet members belonging to the party and rank-and-file members holding 394 votes each.

Abe, Japan's longest-serving premier, said last month he would quit due to ill health, ending a nearly eight-year term.

An election is not due until October next year, but the LDP is riding on a surge of support, and Suga will be keen to cement his leadership with a public mandate in Japan. 

Taking over mid-term, Suga is expected to finish the rest of the current period until elections in September 2021. 

China on Monday congratulated Suga on his election as leader of Japan's LDP. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin made the remarks at a routine press briefing. 

"China stands ready to work with Japan's new leader to continue to abide by the principles and spirit set in the four political documents between the two countries, deepen cooperation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as well as economic and social development, and promote the continuous improvement and development of China-Japan relations," said Wang. 

(With input from agencies)