Fumio Kishida takes office as Japan’s new Prime Minister

Fumio Kishida, center, bows after being named the new prime minister of Japan at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Oct. 4, 2021. (Mainichi/Yuki Miyatake). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Oct 4, 2021, CNN. Japan’s Fumio Kishida took office as the country’s new Prime Minister on Monday, tasked with leading the world’s third-largest economy out of the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.

Kishida, 64, who was elected leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) last week, was officially confirmed as the country’s 100th Prime Minster following a parliamentary vote — his elevation all but a given due to the LDP’s majority in the lower house.

A moderate liberal regarded as a stabilizing hand, Kishida inherits a Japan that has suffered surging Covid-19 infections, a stagnating economy, a rapidly aging population and increasing tensions with China.

Kishida served as the country’s foreign minister from 2012 to 2017, under Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. He succeeds outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who announced earlier this month he would not run in his party’s leadership election following a turbulent term marked by a slump in public support as he struggled to contain the coronavirus.

Analysts say Kishida is seen as a consensus builder, an establishment choice who represents stability. But the political veteran wasn’t the popular choice — he had lackluster support from the public and struggled to shake off his image as a boring bureaucrat.

His first major test will be the next general election, in which he’ll be the face of a party that’s been criticized for its handling of the pandemic.

“He’s not going to be a TV star. He’s not going to capture the imagination of the average Japanese person. But the Japanese people want stability and security, and I think he will be able to provide that,” said Keith Henry, president of political risk and business consulting firm Asia Strategy.

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