TOKYO: Fumio Kishida, former foreign minister of Japan. He was elected as the new leader of the ruling party on September 29, setting him on course to become the nation’s next prime minister of the world’s third largest economy.
Mr. Kishida, 64 year old, will be confirmed as new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, to be elected the next prime minister on October 4 in parliament, where his party and coalition partner control the house.
It was second time lucky for the experienced politician, he lost out in 2020 to Yoshihide Suga.
He beat Taro Kono, the vaccinations minister, in a runoff after moving ahead of two female candidates Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda in the first round.
He is widely regarded as a safe pair of hands, despite a low key presence that has sometimes been characterised as a lack of charisma.
Mr. Kishida previously served as LDP policy chief and was foreign minister between 2012-17, during which he negotiated accords with Russia and South Korea, with whom Japan’s relations are often frosty.
He hails from a political family. Both his father and grandfather were members of the country’s House of Representatives. He first entered the political arena in 1993, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
He has been abolishing nuclear weapons “my life’s work”, and in 2016 helped bring then US president Barack Obama to Hiroshima on a historic visit.
The new leader is under pressure to change the party’s high handed reputation worsened by Suga, who angered the public over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and insistence on holding the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Suga is leaving after only a year taking office, suddenly resigned over health problems. It is ending nearly eight year leadership, the longest in Japan’s constitutional history.