The Japanese Parliament has appointed Yoshihide Suga as the new prime minister on Tuesday, replacing Shinzo Abe, who decided to resign for health reasons after almost eight years as head of government.
Suga, 71, who was Abe’s Chief of Staff and Minister Spokesperson, received 314 of the 462 votes cast in an extraordinary session of the Lower House of the Diet, convened in order to ratify that election based on the proposal of the ruling party.
Once elected in that instance, the most important of the Japanese Parliament, the vote was passed to the Upper House, with fewer functions than the previous one, and where Suga obtained 142 of the 243 votes cast.
The other votes were for candidates for the position proposed by other parties with no chances of reaching the Headquarters of the Japanese Government.
The Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) elected Suga as the new leader of that political group last Monday, in order to complete the mandate at the head of that group that Abe left incomplete, until September next year.
Abe announced the past August 28 his decision to resign due to complications related to the chronic ulcerative colitis that he has suffered since his youth and that worsened in recent months.
He was prime minister for a little over a year between 2006 and 2007 and also since 2012, making him the longest-serving prime minister in recent Japanese history.
The new prime minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, has not been lavish in concrete proposals of what will be his government management, and has generally made clear that will maintain a continuous line regarding his successor, Shinzo Abe.
But since his candidacy to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) became known, he has referred to some particular measures, including the following:
1. Cell phone
Suga has promised to reduce fees set by mobile phone companies, a market dominated mainly by three (Docomo, Softbank and KDDI), a situation that has been described as an “oligopoly.” Suga considers these rates to be high in Japan compared to other developed countries and there is “a lot of room” for prices to be lowered. Two years ago she even suggested a price cut of around 40%.
2. Digitization of public administration
Suga has lamented that Japan is underdeveloped in public management and, for example, is promoting greater use of a registration system with one number for all Japanese and residents of the country. In Japan there is no unique identity document, but the Government has created a system (“MyNumber”) that tries to unify criteria. Suga wants to push that tool forward. “If I have my ‘MyNumber’ card, I could use it at all times and all year round without having to go to public offices.”
Suga wants to strengthen the system of SMEs in the country, which number about 3.6 million and which represent 99.7% of all Japanese companies, according to official data. Suga seeks to promote SME integration to strengthen its position within the framework of corporate activity.
Suga has been in favor of fertility treatment being covered by health insurance. Japan has a very low fertility rate (140 births for every 100 women) and suffers a progressive aging of its population. In 2019, those over 65 reached the record level of 28.4%. According to the financial daily Nikkei, a fertility treatment can cost more than a million yen (about 8,000 euros) and many families cannot cover that expense.