Sep 16, 2020
Yoshihide Suga becomes new Prime Minister of Japan
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At his inaugural press conference as prime minister, he vowed to follow the policies of his former boss, Shinzo Abe, and give top priority to controlling the coronavirus, which helped cause the country’s worst contraction on record in the second quarter of this year..
“Reviving the economy remains the administration’s top priority,” Suga told reporters after a ceremony at the Imperial Palace where the emperor endorsed the new prime minister and his cabinet. “As I continue with‘ Abenomics, ’I want to go ahead with more reforms.” (* Abenomics refers to the economic policies promoted by Shinzo Abe).
The majority of the Liberal Democratic Party in the powerful Lower House assured Suga a landslide victory in Wednesday’s vote, allowing him to succeed Abe, who resigned for health reasons. Suga, a taciturn 71-year-old Northerner known for his work ethic and pragmatism, took the helm promising to keep Japan’s unique military alliance with the United States strong.
Suga has promised continuity and appointed a cabinet that includes veteran PLD politicians and retains several important players from the Abe era. Finance Minister Taro Aso, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, and Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of a former prime minister, were among those who remained.
While Suga’s appointment officially ends the Abe era, the former prime minister’s political influence is expected to persist. Suga has vowed to maintain the super flexible monetary and fiscal stance of his former boss, known as “Abenomics.”
Any sign of an exit could cause the yen to rise and stocks to fall, prompting a reassessment of the outlook for the nation. The Topix index briefly fell when Abe announced his intention to resign, but quickly stabilized as market players considered Suga would keep Japan on its current course.
In contrast to Abe’s political pedigree, Suga hails from rural Akita prefecture in northern Japan and worked in a cardboard box factory when he moved to Tokyo. He worked during his college years before beginning his political career as a secretary to a politician.
He was first elected to Parliament in 1996 and received the nickname “Uncle Reiwa” when he revealed the name of the new imperial Reiwa era in 2019 to a national television audience.
“He is a reformer from the roots,” said Hiroyuki Kishi, a former bureaucrat turned professor at Keio University. Typical of someone who has risen through the ranks, Suga has strong positions on individual issues but has yet to reveal a vision for the nation, Kishi added.
Akita is one of the areas most affected by the economic malaise derived from a smaller population and an aging population.
The role of Chief Cabinet Secretary, which Suga held for a record period, will be awarded to Katsunobu Kato. The former Finance Ministry bureaucrat recently served as Health Minister.
Abe’s younger brother Nobuo Kishi, known for his support of Taiwan, will become Defense Minister. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Taro Kono will take over as Minister of Administrative Reform.
Speculation about an early general election has lessened following a surge in support for the Cabinet. When asked about the timing of the vote, Suga told reporters that he first wanted to focus the cabinet’s energies on the pandemic and the revival of the economy, keeping time limits in mind. The power to dissolve Parliament for a general election rests with the prime minister, who is not required to call it until October next year.
Suga has been outspoken on some specific issues, such as the need for more competition among mobile phone providers to lower costs for households. He has said that Japan has too many regional financial institutions and is a strong proponent of introducing casino complexes to boost tourism.
While Suga has little direct experience in diplomacy, he has said that Japan’s alliance with the US will remain the cornerstone of his foreign policy and that he wants to maintain stable ties with China, his country’s largest trading partner.
Suga and his ministers could outline policy plans in a series of media briefings scheduled for Wednesday night.
Original Note: Farmer’s Son Suga Becomes First New Japan Premier Since 2012 (1)
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Tags: prime minister
Amazon Prime Day will begin October 13th, multiple sources say
An internal Amazon email seen by The News Brig confirms that its Prime Day shopping event will take place October 13th and 14th, and that the company will make an official announcement September 27th.
In a separate internal email, Amazon warehouse workers were told no new vacation requests would be accepted between October 13th and October 20th, which suggests that the company needs all hands on deck for Prime Day.
An Amazon spokesperson said in an email to The News Brig that the company has not announced any dates for Prime Day. “Stay tuned for more details on Prime Day,” the spokesperson said, adding that customers can ask Alexa devices to keep them updated about Prime Day.
The e-commerce giant is keeping a tight lid on any leaks about this year’s Prime Day, which was postponed from July due to the coronavirus pandemic. A promotional poster from personal care company Braun that surfaced last week showing its Prime Day Deals “in mid-October” disappeared from several sites following an inquiry from The News Brig. At that point, Amazon would only confirm that Prime Day would be in Q4, which means sometime after October 1st.
Whatever the date, Amazon likely wants to keep Prime Day and Black Friday sales from overlapping. According to Tamebay, a publication for Amazon third-party sellers, Black Friday deals are expected to begin showing up on Amazon somewhere around October 26th and run for several weeks.
In the past, Prime Day has started on a Monday; last year’s homage to consumerism lasted for two days. Analysts estimated Prime Day 2019 brought in somewhere around $6 billion. Amazon warehouse workers staged a Prime Day strike last year to protest working conditions at the company.