Japanese PM Suga Reportedly Intends to Step Down, Unlikely to Run in Looming Party Elections
04:03 GMT 03.09.2021 (Updated: 04:04 GMT 03.09.2021)
As the country grapples with its biggest wave of COVID-19 infections ahead of a general election this year, Suga, who took office when Shinzo Abe quit last September citing ill health, has seen his popularity plummet to around 30%.
Yoshihide Suga, Japan's prime minister, will not fight for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in September, the Japanese NHK channel reported on Friday, thus paving the way for his replacement after only one year in office.
According to the report, Suga announced this decision at an extraordinary party board meeting.
Elections for the head of the party are scheduled for September 29. Suga's reported refusal to nominate himself will effectively mean that he will cease to hold the post of prime minister.
Earlier this week, media speculated that Suga might, after a reorganization of the ruling party executive and his cabinet, dissolve the lower house of parliament in mid-September. Suga reportedly wanted to postpone the LDP leadership election until after the general election, allegedly considering conducting the election on October 17.
On Wednesday, the prime minister told reporters that he had no intention of dissolving the lower house of parliament.
"We can't dissolve the lower house in this current situation," he said.
According to media reports, Suga is considering reorganizing the party's executive and cabinet in the nearest future. He also stated that the government overhaul will be minor.
The prime minister's ratings have been hit hard by a lingering vaccination rollout, and the fact that the Japanese government has declared a fourth state of emergency in most of the country, reportedly failing to capitalize on the mostly successful Olympics.
Experts consider that the LDP and its allies are unlikely to lose their coalition majority in the powerful lower house, but estimates suggest Suga's party may lose its absolute majority, weakening whoever leads the party.