The government’s Liberal Democratic Party elected Fumio Kishida, an ex-minister of foreign affairs, to be its next president.
The party’s leaders showed an interest in political considerations over popular sentiment while confirming that the 64-year old will be Japan’s 100th premiere.
In contrast to previous LDP leader elections where factions within the party ensured the winner was a particular outcome, this election was the most heated contest in the last few years. Kishida and Japan’s Regulatory Reform Minister Taro Kono, who had greater support from the LDP’s ranks and file and was also a frontrunner in public opinion polls, had to go to runoff following no candidate got a candidate majority of votes in the initial round.
After the second round, LDP councilmen from the Japanese parliament took the lead in the vote. Kishida defeated Kono by 257 votes- 249 members and eight from the rank and file – to 170.
There were two female contestants, Sanae Takaichi, a minister in communications and internal affairs, and Seiko Noda, executive secretary-general of the LDP. They were eliminated in the first round.
The LDP-led coalition has the majority both in the chambers of parliament. The appointment of Kishida as Japan’s 100th Prime Minister is virtually guaranteed on Monday, during a special session of the legislative body.
He will then steer the party in a minor house election, held by November 28. Recent polls suggest that the LDP that has been ruling Japan for the majority of the last sixty-six years is likely to win yet again.
After the victory, Kishida invoked a sports image to appeal for party unity in the coming elections.
“The presidential election is over…. All of us will play ‘baseball‘ together to face the House of Representatives election and the House of Councilors election”. Kishida added that his administration would create an economic stimulus package of several trillion yen before the year’s close to reduce the adverse effects of the COVID-19 disease on the financial system.
In economics, Kishida pledged to move away from a neoliberal policy that he claims has boosted growth and widened the gap between wealth and poverty, which was made worse due to the pandemic.