Will Taro Kono become Japan’s new Prime Minister?

New Delhi, Sep 15: Taro Kono Japan’s administrative reform minister, who managed the country’s vaccination programme, looks to be headed for the top slot in both – the party as well as the country.

His candidature as the leader for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the ruling party, has been backed by none other than Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

In a report on the Japanese political scene, Nikkei Asia quoted Koizumi as saying: “It’s clear who can be the leader to breathe new life into the party and to change both the LDP and Japan”.

Speaking with India Narrative, Prof. Baladas Ghoshal—former chairman of the Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, JNU, says: “Kono’s role in vaccine management has been greatly appreciated which makes him a front-runner for the position in the party and also for the Prime Minister’s position”.

However, Kono faces opposition from two other party colleagues—former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi and policy chief Fumio Kishida. The winner of the party’s presidential race will succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has announced his decision to not seek another term.

The LDP itself has various factions, not all of whom support Kono. For example, Takaichi has been promised support by none other than former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Ghoshal adds that much will depend on which Japanese politician has greater popularity with the voters in the general elections slated for this November. “Popularity with the electorate is an important factor for the candidates both from the LDP as well as the opposition”, he adds.

The right wing is also on the rise in the country, partly due to China’s assertion in the region and this will have a bearing on the elections.

Other electoral factors will be perception among the electorate about who will deal better with the coronavirus pandemic.

Even foreign policy and defence matters will influence the Japanese people in their choice of the Prime Minister, says Ghoshal.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)