Tokyo: Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, said on Friday he was stepping down due to a worsening of a chronic illness, setting the stage for a leadership election within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
While some other would-be successors have declared their intention to run, the 71-year-old Suga has said he doesn’t want the job. But such comments have been called into question by an aggressive media push in recent days that put him squarely in the public eye.
“They are really going to try to get Suga to replace Abe and continue the Abe government without Abe,” said Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano.
In an interview with Reuters this week, Suga stressed the need to spur economic growth over tightening restrictions to contain the virus, pointing to the need to promote tourism.
“We need to consider what we can do to prevent the economy from falling off a cliff,” Suga said at his parliamentary office, where a large photograph of him standing next to U.S. President Donald Trump was on display.
The interview, in which Suga again denied he wanted the job, was part of the publicity blitz before Abe announced his resignation, in which he gave interviews to at least four major news organisations.