Yoshihide Suga(菅 義偉) is Japan's current prime minister, having been appointed to the post in September 2020 following the resignation of his predecessor Shinzō Abe. Suga is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party which has governed Japan since 2012.
Suga has long been a key political ally to Abe, serving as Minister of Communications in his first cabinet (2006-7) and Chief Cabinet Secretary (equivalent to the American White House Chief of Staff and Press Secretary rolled into one) in Abe's second government (2012-2020). As Cabinet Secretary Suga played the leading role in curbing the press in Japan to make it slavishly loyal to the Abe administration; under Abe's term Japan dropped from 22nd to 66th in press freedom rankings.
Unlike most Japanese politicians who tend to be part of political dynasties Suga has quite modest origins - he is the son of a strawberry farmer and previously worked in a factory before entering politics. This alongside his reputation as a workaholic and ruthless operator have been emphasised since coming to power to show a different style to his blue-blooded predecessor.
However, don't mistake him for being substantially different to the hard-right agenda of Abe. Suga ran on a platform of continuing Abe's main policies of Abenomics (a kind of Japanese version of Reagan-esque trickle-down economics and supply-side monetary policy), changing Japan's pacifist constitution and maintaining Abe's foreign policy. The latter includes continuing Abe's poor relations with South Korea which started over Japan's refusal to compensate or apologise for its treatment of sex slaves (comfort women) from the colonial period, with Suga stating that "South Korea is responsible for all the twisted relations between South Korea and Japan.". Suga's appointment as LDP leader is more a change in style rather then substance.
In terms of his personal views, Suga is similar to Abe being a member of far-right group Nippon Kaigi. Unlike Abe whose focus was more on foreign affairs and Japanese neo-nationalism Suga is more concerned with reforming the Japanese economy on neoliberal lines. It's likely that therefore under Suga there is a shift to forcing through free-market reforms and furthering Abenomics despite their prior failure as the top priority whilst on foreign affairs continue the course of aligning with fellow regional right-wing leaders such as Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison against China and North Korea.
- He is in favor of a constitutional amendment.
- He reserved his approval for the couple's use of different surnames after marriage. (Legally in Japan, couples must have the same last name.)
- Like his predecessor Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he is a strong right-wing nationalist and belongs to the far-right organization Nippon Kaigi.
- Hōsei University(法政大学), where he graduated, is said to be one of the most leftist private universities in Japan.
- Suga similar to many other LDP politicians reportedly has connections to the Japanese yakuza.
- Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Ruthless New PM, Is a Control Freak Who Muzzled the Press The Daily Beast, 14 September 2020
- Japan's new PM Yoshihide Suga is self-made, powerful adviser Channel News Asia, 16 September 2020
- Japan's new PM Suga vows to press on with Abe-era policies The Straits Times, 17 September 2020
- Japan after Abe: Suga aims to consolidate power Financial Times, 15 September 2020