- As Japan's Premier, The 71-year-old Yoshihide Suga will now be in charge of the world's third largest economy.
- Suga only became seriously known to the public in April 2019, when the Japanese Emperor Akihoto abdicated.
- Japan has been rocked by economic difficulties and the coronavirus pandemic.
It is now official that Yoshihide Suga is Japan’s new prime minister. It is after about 70 percent of the lower house of the Japanese parliament today officially appointed him as the successor to the former prime minister, Shinzo Abe. With the title of Prime Minister of Japan follows the responsibility for an economic powerhouse.
Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, surpassed only by the United States and China. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) accounts for almost six percent of the world’s total accumulated GDP.
However, a tough task awaits Suga, at least until September 2021, when new elections shall be held in “The Land of the Rising Sun.”
A Quiet, Industrious Man
Unlike several of his party colleagues in the Japanese ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Yoshihide Suga does not come from a wealthy family, or a family that was already deeply involved in Japanese politics.
He grew up in a small farming community, and is the eldest son of a strawberry farmer.
While schooling, Suga was known to be a very quiet person. His then classmates describe him as a quiet person who was not noticed, whether he was there or not, as told by his former school friend, who still lives in Suga’s hometown, Yuzawa, a small mountain town north of the capital Tokyo.
After he left school, Suga worked at a cardboard factory in Tokyo to save up for university. After that, he worked as a secretary for an official in the port city of Yokohama, and slowly but surely began to enter the political environment and rose in ranks. The story of the quiet but industrious man goes again.
“I think he’s been able to remain in such a position without school ties or political faction because he doesn’t try to stand out,” says a former colleague. Suga always encouraged them to always do their best in whatever they did.
In 1996, at the age of 47, he was first elected to the Japanese parliament. In 2006, when Shinzo Abe was first elected Prime Minister, Suga became Minister of the Interior. When Abe was re-elected in December 2012, Suga became chief of staff and the government’s spokesman.
Suga— who has stated that he starts most days at 5 AM by checking the news, taking 100 abdominal crunches, and then a 40-minute walk– only became seriously known to the public in April 2019, when the Japanese Emperor Akihoto abdicated and his son, Naruhito, took over.
When a new Emperor is to be elected, a new era also begins in Japan. Suga played a major role in the ceremonies, and it was he who revealed the name of the new era– “Reiwa.” Since then, he has had the nickname “Uncle Reiwa.”
A Japan in Difficulty
Currently, Japan, the world’s third largest economy, is on its knees. The economy was booming before the coronavirus pandemic, but things went bad.
Japan currently has a huge public debt and, like many places in the world, the coronavirus has worsened the economic situation in the country. Until his departure, several began to criticize Abe’s handling of the pandemic.
The economy and the coronavirus are not Japan’s only problems. The population of Japan is getting older while fewer children are being born. Shinzo Abe’s government has been criticized for not doing enough for gender equality in the country.
In other words, Yoshihide Suga– the strawberry farmer’s quiet, hardworking son– has his job cut out for him.