New Japan PM Suga: will support people who have suffered economic damage

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged on Wednesday that he will do his best to protect employment while also countering the coronavirus.

In his first news conference as prime minister, Suga said that the biggest challenge currently facing Japan was the spread of the novel coronavirus, but added that there was a need to balance the fight with the virus with economic revival.

He also pledged that he would beef up coronavirus testing capacity and secure a vaccine for all residents when it was ready.

Suga said that there could not be a political vacuum at a time of national crisis, acknowledging his predecessor Shinzo Abe and saying that he would continue Abe’s policies.

Abe announced that he would step down from his post as prime minister in late August. Suga, who has been a close aide to Abe and served as his chief cabinet secretary, was officially picked to succeed him on Wednesday.

Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Alex Richardson