Japan’s new prime minister Yoshihide Suga promises to turn round economy after succeeding Shinzo Abe

Yoshihide Suga has promised to turn around Japan’s economy after he was chosen as the country’s new prime minister.

The 71-year-old’s appointment follows the departure of Shinzo Abe due to ill health.

Mr Abe, 65, said last month he was resigning because his treatment for ulcerative colitis would be ongoing and cause physical weakness.

Mr Suga bowed several times when the results were announced to confirm his election as his fellow Liberal Democrat party MPs applauded.

He served Mr Abe for nearly eight years and was the top government spokesman.

Mr Suga has selected a cabinet that is a mix of new faces and current or former ministers.

He highlighted his background as a farmer’s son and a self-made politician while promising to serve the interests of ordinary people and rural communities.

Mr Suga added he will continue to pursue the unfinished policies of Mr Abe – but his priorities will be to fight the coronavirus and boost an economy which has been battered by the pandemic.

Japan has been in deep recession and is less than a year away from when Tokyo still hopes to host the summer Olympics following its postponement in July due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mr Abe said he will support Mr Suga’s government and said he was “proud” of what he had achieved as the country’s leader.

When speaking to the media before his final cabinet meeting, he said: “I devoted my body and soul for the economic recovery and diplomacy to protect Japan’s national interest every single day since we returned to power.

“During this time, I was able to tackle various challenges together with the people, and I’m proud of myself.”

In a brief farewell ceremony as he left office, he was presented with a bouquet watched by his staff and Mr Suga.

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