Japan vaccine czar Taro Kono declares bid to succeed PM Suga

Kyodo -- Sep 11
Japan's vaccination minister Taro Kono walked the line between his signature reform-minded policies and the conservatism of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Friday as he formally announced his bid to succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The 58-year-old Kono is the third lawmaker to declare candidacy in the LDP's leadership race on Sept. 29 after former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and former communications minister Sanae Takaichi.

At a press conference, Kono vowed to focus on fighting COVID-19 while "moving Japan forward," including by promoting the use of digital technology to enable more people to work remotely and revive regional economies.

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture to a prominent political family -- his father is former House of Representatives speaker Yohei Kono -- Taro Kono graduated from Georgetown University in Washington and worked in the private sector including at Fuji Xerox before successfully running for the lower house in 1996.

Currently doubling as administrative reform minister, he has served in a number of other Cabinet posts such as foreign minister and defense minister.

This is Kono's second attempt at becoming LDP leader, having made a failed bid after the party was ousted from power in a humiliating defeat in the 2009 general election.