September 8, 2021: -Taro Kono, the minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine push, leads popular opinion polls among candidates that could become the next leader of the country.
According to local news agency Kyodo News, Kono has gained 31.9% support from respondents in a nationwide telephone survey just in the weekend. According to Reuters, another study conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun daily also showed Kono being voted the most suitable person to take over.
Still, the minister himself has yet to confirm his intention to seek the leadership of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party officially.
On Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga paved the way for a new leader after not be running in the upcoming leadership election. Before the announcement, Suga had come under fire for handling the Covid situation in Japan, with multiple parts of the country currently under an emergency.
Suga stepping aside sets the stage for a “generational change” inside the LDP, said Jesper Koll, the senior advisor at WisdomTree.
This weekend, local media reports that Suga is set to back Kono to succeed him.
Meanwhile, the LDP appears poised to lose some seats in the future lower house election; the winner of the party’s leadership race could change matters, Koll said.
“Taro Kono has got the mass appeal, particularly amongst the younger generation here in Japan,” Koll said. “He’s very, very savvy, and he does have some perfect ideas on how to take the country forward.”
Harris noted the vaccination minister has an active presence on Twitter. While Facebook and Instagram are the top social media platforms in the U.S. and worldwide, Twitter has a more extensive user base in Japan than those two rivals, according to eMarketer data.