Ex-foreign minister Kishida becomes Japan’s ruling party leader. What’s next?

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Japan’s former foreign minister Fumio Kishida won the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership race on Wednesday, virtually ensuring he will become the next prime minister.

He vowed to lead a transformed party in a general election due within weeks and to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the next steps and important dates in Japan’s political calendar. What is at stake?

  • Kishida is virtually assured of replacing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the top job in a parliamentary vote within days, given the LDP’s majority in the powerful lower house.
  • The new prime minister will have to deal with an economy battered by emergency restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, which is only now starting to slow.
  • The new prime minister must also call an election this year. What’s happens next?
  • Parliament will be called into session on Monday to elect the next prime minister. The candidate who wins the majority of votes cast by the lower and upper houses of parliament will get the job.
  • If the two chambers choose different candidates, and negotiations between the two houses fail to agree on one, the lower house decision will prevail. Given the LDP’s majority in the lower chamber, the LDP leader will likely be elected prime minister.
  • The new premier is also expected to form a new cabinet and reshuffle the LDP executives in early October. When is the next general election?
  • The term of the lower house of parliament runs until Oct. 21, meaning a general election will be held this year.
  • Prime ministers reserve the right to dissolve the lower house and call a snap election. Snap elections must take place within 40 days of the dissolution of the lower house.
  • Media have reported, quoting LDP executives, that the lower chamber will likely be dissolved in mid-October, with the election slated for either Nov. 7 or Nov. 14. In Japan, elections are traditionally held on a Sunday.

Photo- Japan’s former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (C) waves after winning the presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Tokyo, Japan, 29 September 2021. Kishida is to succeed Yoshihide Suga as prime minister, Japan’s third since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS

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