Taro Kono, Japan’s regulatory reform and vaccine minister, speaks from behind a clear display screen throughout a information convention in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg by way of Getty Photos
Taro Kono, the minister accountable for Japan’s vaccine push, at present leads well-liked opinion polls amongst candidates that might turn out to be the nation’s subsequent chief.
Kono gained 31.9% assist from respondents in a nationwide phone survey over the weekend, according to local news agency Kyodo News. One other survey carried out by Yomiuri Shimbun day by day additionally confirmed Kono being voted probably the most appropriate particular person to take over, Reuters reported.
Nonetheless, the minister himself has but to formally verify his intention to hunt the management of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Get together.
On Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga successfully paved the way in which for a brand new chief after announcing he will not be running in the upcoming leadership election. Previous to the announcement, Suga had come below hearth for his dealing with of the Covid scenario in Japan, with a number of elements of the nation at present below a state of emergency.
Suga stepping apart units the stage for a “generational change” contained in the LDP, based on Jesper Koll, senior advisor at WisdomTree.
Different identified potential contenders within the upcoming LDP election embrace former overseas minister Fumio Kishida, former protection minister Shigeru Ishiba in addition to former inside affairs minister Sanae Takaichi. Koll mentioned the present subject options “some very attention-grabbing and thrilling” candidates, describing Kono as a “maverick” whereas Kishida and Takaichi characterize the institution.
Over the weekend, native media reported that Suga is set to back Kono to succeed him.
Whereas the LDP seems poised to lose some seats within the upcoming decrease home election, the winner of the occasion’s management race may change issues, Koll mentioned. For instance, he sees the LDP “very simply” securing its supermajority in parliament if Kono is elected as chief of the occasion.
“Taro Kono has acquired the mass attraction, significantly amongst the youthful technology right here in Japan,” Koll mentioned. “He is very, very savvy and he does even have some excellent concepts on methods to take the nation ahead.”
Heart for American Progress’ Tobias Harris mentioned Kono may succeed the place Suga — in addition to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — have failed: communication with the general public.
Harris famous the vaccination minister has an lively presence on Twitter. Whereas Fb and Instagram are the highest social media platforms within the U.S. in addition to worldwide, Twitter has a bigger consumer base in Japan than these two rivals, based on eMarketer knowledge.
Not like Suga and Abe, Kono tweets in each Japanese and English on two separate accounts. His Japanese account boasts 2.3 million followers, eclipsing Suga’s roughly 466,400 followers. Even Abe, who was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister before he stepped down last year, has a smaller following of two.2 million.
Kono’s sizable lead in polls means that the Japanese public has responded to him as a “quirky, accessible, actually efficient public communicator,” mentioned Harris, senior fellow for Asia on the agency.
“I feel in some methods, that is perhaps what the general public needs greater than, you already know, a technocrat,” Harris mentioned.