Kishida’s victory sets him up to replace outgoing party leader and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is stepping down just a year after taking the top job. Given the LDP and its coalition partner’s control of the house, Kishida is certain to also become Japan’s next prime minister. Prior to his announcement of stepping aside, Suga’s approval ratings were already plunging amid widespread criticism of his administration’s handling of the pandemic. Critics slammed his decision to carry on hosting the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo despite the area being under a state of emergency at that time.
Kishida was one of Suga’s key challengers in the LDP leadership race in 2020, when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unexpectedly resigned due to ill health.