Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was elected Monday by party lawmakers and officials as the new leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, taking over from the country's longest-serving Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
There will be another vote on Wednesday in parliament, when the LDP's majority will almost certainly make him Prime Minister.
He is expected to finish the rest of Abe's term, which is until September next year.
"I received quite a large number of votes, so I believe this is an environment in which I can lead our politics stably and in my own way."
Suga was first elected to the House of Representative in 1996, and his political career since has been closely tied to Abe's.
Suga served as chief cabinet secretary under Abe for almost eight years.
He's likely to carry on with the policies of his predecessor, including the foreign policy and historical views that have caused friction with Japan's neighbors.
Ties with South Korea have soured over the issues of wartime sex slavery and forced labor, as well as Japan's retaliatory export curbs on South Korea.
"Abe showed his right-wing colors from the start. Suga is more aware of the importance of dialogue. Suga's views on history won't be much different, but there could be a little more room for talks when it comes to foreign policy."
As for Abe's unfinished ambition to change Japan's post-war pacifist constitution, experts say it's unlikely to happen soon, considering various factors, including Japan's COVID-19 situation.
"To revise the constitution, they need consent from the public and more than two-thirds approval in parliament. But some even doubt whether the LDP can secure the majority in the next election. They'll bring up the revision issue for this purpose, but it seems unlikely to happen in the next few years."
The expert added that Suga might dissolve parliament and call a snap election as soon as next month to solidify his position.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.