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Data: Gleditsc and Chiozza, 2016, "Archigos — A Data Set on Leaders 1875–2015", Axios research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yoshihide Suga will represent Japan at this week's UN General Assembly just days after replacing the country's longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

By the numbers: Suga, 71, may find Abe's longevity hard to match. Japan had 17 prime ministers in the 14 years before Abe took office.

  • By contrast, Angela Merkel will soon mark 15 years as Germany's chancellor.

Driving the news: Since Abe resigned due to chronic health issues, Suga has undergone "a rapid im­age makeover from a tough back­room en­forcer of the prime min­is­ter’s policies to a warmer ral­ly­ing fig­ure best equipped to con­tinue" the legacy of the man he served for nearly eight years as chief cabinet secretary, per WSJ.

  • His main offering, to his party and his country, has been continuity. Suga's new cabinet includes just two women but 11 Abe holdovers. One of the eight additions is Abe's brother, as defense minister.
  • While Abe was heir to one of Japan's most prominent political dynasties, Suga's parents were farmers.
  • He's considered shrewd and hard-working, but not particularly charismatic. It's unclear whether he'll play as visible a role on the world stage as his predecessor, who boasted strong personal relationships with leaders including President Trump.

What to expect: Suga's speech to the nearly all-virtual UN General Assembly was recorded over the weekend, per Nikkei, but won't be streamed until this Saturday.

  • He'll emphasize continuity with Abe's priorities of "freedom, democracy and the rule of law," stress the importance of collaboration on vaccine distribution, and call for international cooperation "to resolve the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea," Nikkei reports.
  • The speeches will begin Tuesday, with speakers including President Trump, China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

More foreign leaders have called to congratulate Biden than GOP senators

Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty

Eight world leaders have now called to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden — four more than the number of GOP senators who have publicly done so.

Why it matters: The refusal by top Republicans to accept Biden's victory and allow legal options to be exhausted could mean weeks of drama and serve as a distraction from the work that is necessary to ensure a smooth transition of power.

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.