Suga got 377 votes, and Fumio Kishida 88 and Shigeru Ishiba 68, his two rivals, PLD announced.

A vote in parliament on Wednesday to appoint Japan’s new prime minister appears to be a formality, given the weight of the PLD coalition with its ally, the Komeito Party.

Before officially entering the race, Suga, 71, had the support of key factions in the party, and his candidacy was seen as synonymous with the stability and continuation of Abe’s policy.

Invoking the urgency of the situation, the PLD opted for a reduced ballot, limited to 535 voters – the party’s 394 lawmakers and 141 representatives in the country’s 47 regions. In total, 534 votes were cast. This way of choosing gave Suga a decisive advantage against the two rivals, notes AFP, according to

Shinzo Abe, 65, who broke the longevity record as prime minister (more than eight years in two terms), declined to speak publicly in favor of any of the three candidates. The Japanese Prime Minister announced his resignation at the end of August, For health reasons.

The next head of government will face difficult and complex challenges. Japan is in recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many aspects of the current prime minister’s economic policy, called “Abeconomics,” are in jeopardy.

Suga said economic recovery will be a top priority of his mandate, as will keeping the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus under control.

A government led by Yoshihide Suga would likely continue the policy of fiscal and budgetary support of Abe’s term, Reuters notes.

Diplomatic stakes are also high, especially in terms of maintaining the alliance with Washington and the attitude towards China, which has been pointed out because it has allowed the new covonavirus to spread and restricts the rights of Hong Kong residents.