Japan's new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida takes office

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Japan has elected former diplomat Fumio Kishida as its new Prime Minister in a parliamentary vote on Monday.

The 64-year-old succeeds Yoshihide Suga who stepped down after only one year in office as his support plunged over his government's handling of the pandemic and insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics as the virus spread.

With his party and its coalition partner holding a majority in both houses, Kishida easily won against Yukio Edano, head of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

The new prime minister is now set to replace all but two of 20 cabinet posts under Suga, and 13 are being appointed to ministerial posts for the first time, according to Japanese media.

Most of the posts went to powerful factions that voted for Kishida in the party election. Only three women are reportedly included, up from two in Suga's government.

The new cabinet will be known in the next few hours.

Kishida is expected to make a policy speech later this week before dissolving the lower house of parliament ahead of the general election expected by mid-November.

Observers see the early date as a move to take advantage of his fresh image.

A former foreign minister, Kishida was regarded until recently as a moderate-liberal but has apparently shifted to the right in a bid to win over influential conservatives in his Liberal Democratic Party.

Kishida, who was first elected to parliament in 1993 representing Hiroshima, supports stronger Japan-U.S. security ties and partnerships with other like-minded democracies in Asia, Europe, and Britain, in part to counter China and nuclear-armed North Korea. He is an advocate for nuclear disarmament.

A third-generation politician, Kishida will face several tough issues, including Japan's post-pandemic economic recovery and a nuclear-armed North Korea. He announced last week that his top priority would be the economy, as he hopes to raise the income of more people and create a cycle of growth and distribution.

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