Fumio Kishida is set to become Japan’s next prime minister after former foreign minister surpassed the popular reformer, Taro Kono, to won a landslide victory over the country’s ruling party.
Kishida will succeed outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to take charge of world’s third largest economy as it seeks to recover from a virus emergency.
Kishida’s victory closes the by-elections for the Liberal Democratic Party, in which two of the four candidates were women and the majority of the party’s major parties allowed their members to vote for free. Although Kono and Kishida were almost arrested in the first vote, Kishida’s strong support among members of parliament pushed him to the top in the second term after Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda – both former interior ministers – were ousted.
In the end, Kishida received 257 votes, compared to Kono’s 170. Japanese markets, which closed just before the final result were announced, lost something, Topix Index and Nikkei 225 both fell by 2.1%.
The LDP, which has been in power but almost four years since 1955, will use the majority of its members in parliament to formally nominate him as Prime Minister in a special session. However, Kishida, who admitted during his campaign that he was considered by some to be a nuisance, will face immediate scrutiny of his extensive appeal in the general election he is due to hold in November.