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POLITIXXX Profiler: Yoshihide Suga, Shadow mayor to Uncle Reiwa

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John Leonard Landicho
John Leonard Landicho is a writer-correspondent of Politixxx Today. He graduated senior high school in San Beda University. He is currently studying Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in Ateneo de Manila University.

Weeks after the shocking resignation of PM Abe due to medical reasons. Garnering a 70 percent vote as the leader of his party, total votes of 314 out of 465 from the House of Representatives and 142 out of 240 from the House of Councillors, Japan Parliament has elected Japan’s former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as the new prime minister.

Yoshihide Suga is not a widely popular figure of Japan’s politics, however he holds successful record in diplomacy and policies behind the scenes.

Yoshihide Suga with Shinzo Abe

Early life

Born on December 16, 1948 in Ogachi, now Yuza, Niigata, Yoshihide Suga is the eldest son of Wasaburo, a strawberry farmer and Tatsu, a schoolteacher. After high school, he migrated to Tokyo to find work due to the fact that he is unwilling to become a farmer.

In Tokyo, he worked as factory worker in cardboard for a short time, then he studied in Hosei University and at the same time worked newsroom assistant and security to pay for his education.

After he acquired a degree, he worked in a electrical maintenance company which he then quit to enter the doors of politics.

Life in Politics

He started his political career as the secretary to Hikosaburo Okonogi, a member of a Diet. He worked there for 11 years and resigned to run for Yokohama’s city assemby. In his campaign, he famously utilized the door-to-door campaigning in which according to reports he successfully visited 30,000 houses. He eventually gained the nickname “shadow mayor” and won the race.

In 1996, he won a seat in the Diet as a representative of the 2nd district of Kanawaga. Three years after he was elected, he made an unexpected move when he endorsed former Sec-Gen of the Liberal Democratic Party in the party election, defying the party leadership led by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. He was later elected again in 2000, 2003 and 2005 elections.

In 2005, he was added as Senior Vice-Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications to the 3rd reshuffled cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Suga’s position further advanced when Shinzo Abe was elected president. He became the country’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, Minister for Privatization of the Postal Service and Minister of State for Decentralization Reform. Abe and Suga had a great work loyalty, even after the cabinet collapsed which then lead to Abe’s resignation and the party’s lose of power. In fact, Suga was the one who encouraged Abe to run again for the position of prime minister.

Being Uncle Reiwa

When the grandson of Former PM, Nobusuke Kishi, Shinzo Abe was re- elected as prime minister in 2012, he appointed Suga as his chief cabinet secretary.

Suga became an instrumental part of the administration in domestic and foreign policy, diplomacy, and Abenomics.

Suga supported Bank of Japan’s strong course of action to achieve the stabilization of price. He rejected his party colleague’s petition to replace the Kona statement, a statement that contains apology to the comfort women who were forced to become sexual slaves by the Japanese during the world war.

Yoshihide Suga, announcing new imperial era, “Reiwa”, to reporters. Photo licensed under the Government of Japan Standard Terms of Use (Ver.2.0)

In April 2019, in the wake of Emperor Akihito’s abdication, making Prince Naruhito the new emperor. Yoshihide Suga as a chief cabinet secretary was chosen to announce the new era of Japan, Reiwa Era. Because of this, Japan gave Suga a new nickname, Uncle Reiwa. This moment made Suga a viable successor for Abe.

A year after this event, a new announcement came to light when Abe resigned as prime minister. Suga, a 71 year old, have decided to run for the position of his former boss. He then won in a landslide victory and assumed office on September 16.

He vowed to make Coronavirus response his top priority as prime minister. On the other hand, He promised to continue his predecessor’s policies such as Abenomics. He may also make small contribution in strengthening women’s role in the workforce.

The nation awaits for the government under Suga’s action to several issues. With the assumption that his administration is likely to be similar as his former boss, the people still expects change in the state of the country and continuity of the Japan’s prosperity.

*featured photo is licensed under the Government of Japan Standard Terms of Use (Ver.2.0). The Terms of Use are compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International. For terms of use this work, see this license page.

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