Fumio Kishida has won a race to lead Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), putting him on course to become the next prime minister.
Kishida will succeed Yoshihide Suga, who decided to step down after just one year in office.
His first mission as prime minister will be to lead the LDP to victory in an upcoming general election.
The party’s popularity fell after it pushed to host the Tokyo Olympics despite public opposition.
Kishida, a former foreign minister, beat out Taro Kono, who was widely regarded as the most popular candidate.
Given the LDP’s majority in parliament, Kishida’s position as prime minister has been all but cemented.
Kishida, 64, has long targeted the prime ministerial role, losing out to Mr Suga in last year’s poll.
The new prime minister faces a range of tough issues including post-pandemic economic recovery and confronting threats from North Korea.
He has called for a “health crisis management agency” to be established in order to deal with the pandemic and backs the idea of passing a resolution condemning China’s treatment of the Uyghur minority.