TOKYO — Japan’s former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida won the governing party leadership election on Wednesday and is set to become the next prime minister, facing the imminent task of addressing a pandemic-hit economy and ensuring a strong alliance with Washington to counter growing regional security risks.
Kishida replaces outgoing party leader Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is stepping down after serving only one year since taking office last September.
As new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Kishida is certain to be elected the next prime minister on Monday in parliament, where his party and coalition partner control the house.
Kishida beat popular vaccinations Minister Taro Kono in a runoff after finishing only one vote ahead of him in the first round where none of the four candidates, including two women, was able to win a majority.
Results showed Kishida had more support from party heavyweights who apparently chose stability over change advocated by Kono, who