Japan’s parliament elects Yoshihide Suga as prime minister

Yoshihide Suga was elected Japan's prime minister by parliament on Wednesday, with the country's first new leader in nearly eight years forming a Cabinet filled with familiar faces as he vows to stay the course set by his predecessor Shinzo Abe, Kyodo News reported.

For Suga, who became chief of the Liberal Democratic Party earlier this week, the immediate focus will be reviving the battered economy while keeping the novel coronavirus under control, with longer-term challenges including the country's falling birthrate and a myriad of diplomatic disputes with Asian neighbors.

Suga has pledged to push forward with Abe's policies including "Abenomics," a mix of measures aimed at beating deflation and spurring growth in the world's third-largest economy.

The 71-year-old farmer's son, who unlike Abe and many other lawmakers in Japan is not the scion of a political dynasty, has hinted at the possibility of additional steps to shore up the economy.

This would come on top of a 230 trillion yen ($2.2 trillion) package the government has already set out for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak, including subsidies for beleaguered businesses and promotion of domestic tourism.

He will also take over a sweeping review of Japan's national security policy that was initiated by Abe after plans to introduce a US-developed missile defense system were scrapped due to technical issues.

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