Japan’s governing party on Monday elected Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as its new leader, making way for him to become the new prime minister in a parliamentary vote later this week, AP reported. Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had announced that he will resign because of his deteriorating health.

Suga won 377 out of 534 votes in the Liberal Democratic Party election to pick a successor to Abe. The party’s policy chief Fumio Kishida got 89 votes and former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba won 68. The winner of the election will formally be elected as prime minister in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday because of the ruling party’s majority in the lower house.

The 71-year-old is considered a close ally of Abe and has stated that he would continue his predecessor’s “Abenomics” strategy of hyper-easy monetary policy. Suga served as a powerful government adviser and spokesperson during Abe’s nearly eight-year tenure. Abe had declined to publicly endorse any candidate.

The son of a strawberry farmer from northern Japan, Suga has to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, a slumping economy and several other challenges, including China’s actions in the East China Sea.