Fumio Kishida to be next Japan Premier after winning party vote

Fumio Kishida is set to become Japan’s prime minister, after the ex-foreign minister overcame popular reformer Taro Kono to win leadership of the country’s ruling party, Bloomberg reports.

Kishida, 64, was expected to be appointed Monday to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, putting him in charge of the world’s third-largest economy as it seeks to rebound from a virus emergency. The self-effacing former banker from Hiroshima has promised tens of trillions of yen in spending and pledged to steer away from “neo-liberal” economic policies in a bid to bolster the middle class.

Kishida’s victory caps an unpredictable Liberal Democratic Party election, in which two of the four candidates were female and most of the party’s largest factions allowed their members a free vote. Although Kono and Kishida were nearly tied on the first ballot, Kishida’s stronger support among members of parliament pushed him over the top in the second round after Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda — both former internal affairs ministers — were eliminated.

In the end, Kishida got 257 votes, compared with Kono’s 170. Japanese markets, which closed just before the final result was announced, pared some losses, with Topix Index and Nikkei 225 both down 2.1%

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