Tue, 20 Oct 2020

TOKYO, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Cabinet of Japan's outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday resigned en masse, ahead of the parliament formally appointing Yoshihide Suga, the newly elected ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader, as the new prime minister.

Abe, Japan's longest serving prime minister in terms of consecutive days in office, said he had given his all during his time as the national leader and it had been an honor to serve.

"I have spent every day putting my all into economic recovery and diplomacy to protect Japan's interests," Abe told reporters at the prime minister's office.

Abe late last month abruptly announced that he planned to step down, owing to the same intestinal disease, ulcerative colitis, that forced him to relinquish his role as the prime minister during his first stint as leader beginning 2006, flaring up again.

Abe felt he could not fulfill his mandate as the prime minister due to his ill health and in stepping down has paved the way for his former right-hand man Suga to succeed him as the ruling party's president and the nation's next leader.

"It is my honor to have been able to work on a range of issues along with the people during this time. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart," the outgoing leader said.

Suga is now set to take office as Japan's prime minister on Wednesday after he is selected at an extraordinary Diet session.

The more powerful lower house of parliament and the upper house will convene in the afternoon to each name their choice for Abe's successor.

Along with their junior coalition Komeito ally, the LDP dominates in both chambers of Japan's bicameral parliament and hence Suga will be certain to be chosen as the next prime minister.

Suga's premiership will last through the remainder of Abe's term as LDP leader until September 2021.

In the run-up to his inauguration, Suga has said he will continue to promote Abe policies, including his "Abenomics" economic brand of aggressive monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms, to breathe life back into the spluttering and recession-hit world's third-largest economy.

Suga will also continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, utilizing the 230 trillion yen (2.2 trillion U.S. dollars) package allocated for tackling the outbreak.

As the nation's leader, Suga, 71, who will be the oldest prime minister to take office since Kiichi Miyazawa in 1991, will also be charged with tackling the nation's dire fiscal health, the worst in the industrialized world, as well as comprehensively addressing the nations demographic crisis comprised of a rapidly aging and shrinking population, that has led to social welfare costs ballooning and the labor force being hollowed out.

Later in the day, Suga will announce the members of his new cabinet.

Health minister Katsunobu Kato will succeed Suga as the chief cabinet secretary, a key post comprising policy coordination and serving as the government's top spokesman.

Other Cabinet members, including Finance Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, are expected to retain their portfolios.

Defense Minister Taro Kono will likely be named minister in charge of administrative reform, sources close to the matter have said.

Suga, thereafter, will be formally inaugurated at a ceremony at the Imperial Palace.

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