Taro Kono, a candidate of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election and currently the minister in charge of vaccinations, delivers a speech for his election campaign in Tokyo Friday
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was backing lawmaker Taro Kono as his successor in the leadership race for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Jiji News reported on Friday.
Considered something of a maverick in Japan's largely conservative political culture, he is the minister in charge of vaccinations.
Kono, 58, is a fluent English speaker who graduated from Georgetown University. He is an avid Twitter user, with many young fans, a rarity in a Japanese political world dominated by elderly men.
A liberal on social issues, Kono supports same sex marriage and advancing the role of women. Having served as foreign and defense minister, Kono says he will work with countries that share democratic values to counter China's growing assertiveness in regional seas. He stressed his achievements in speeding up Japan's delayed vaccinations, portraying himself as a leader who gets things done by tearing down bureaucratic barriers if necessary.
He is backed by other popular reformists and is seen as a rival to supporters of former arch-conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.