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Fumio Kishida takes over as Japan's new PM, expected to call for new elections

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Fumio Kishida takes over as Japan's new PM, expected to call for new elections
Newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stands on Monday during a session in the Diet plenary session in Tokyo. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- As expected, Japan's Parliament on Monday elected former foreign minister Fumio Kishida as the country's new prime minister. But what wasn't expected, reports say, is that he'll dissolve the lower house and hold new national elections late this month.

Kishida, 64, was elected leader of the Liberal Democratic Party last week. The party had long ruled Japan, and Kishida was elected in parliament by a comfortable margin over top opposition candidate Yukio Edano of the Constitutional Democratic Party.

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After his election in parliament, Kishida formally took office in Tokyo.

Kishida replaces Yoshihide Suga as prime minister, who spent only a year in office before announcing his surprise resignation last month. Suga was the target of intense criticism for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Kishida formed a Cabinet that aims to tackle COVID-19 and jump-start the world's third-largest economy. Of the 20 Cabinet members, 13 are first-time ministers and three are female.

Kishida was Japan's foreign minister from 2012 to 2017 under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He has proposed a "new capitalism" that aims to narrow income gaps and promote consumer spending, as well as a large coronavirus recovery package.

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Japanese broadcaster NHK reported on Monday that Kishida is planning to dissolve the lower house of parliament next week and order national elections on Oct. 31.

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Kishida is expected to announce the move in a speech later Monday.

"I send my congratulations to Kishida Fumio on his election by the Diet to be prime minister of Japan," U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.

"The U.S.-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world, and I look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Kishida to strengthen our cooperation in the months and years ahead.

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"I also want to commend former Prime Minister Suga for a successful tenure and thank him for his partnership."

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