TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide sent shock waves in the Japanese political world on Friday, saying he will not run in the upcoming presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, effectively resigning from his position as prime minister when his term ends this month.
According to the Japanese constitution, the party leader who holds most seats in the House of Representatives becomes the prime minister.
“I want to focus on dealing with the emerging coronavirus,” the prime minister reportedly said, justifying his decision. Suga apparently believes that it would be difficult for him to be re-elected LDP president as he is steadily losing support within the party.
Suga had met the ruling party’s Secretary-General Nikai at an executive meeting of the party in the morning. Suga had hoped to replace Nikai, the party’s strongman and so-called kingmaker in Japan, and form a new government.
Following Suga’s announcement, Nikai said the election for a new LDP President will be held on September 29 as scheduled.
Public Support for the Suga government in opinion polls has fallen below the psychologically sensitive percentage of 30% in Japan, as dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus spread.
The infections among the Japanese have reached 1.530 million, resulting in 16,216 deaths. While more than 1.3 million people have recovered from the infection, nearly 2,100 infected people are in a critical health situation.
Suga’s resignation is expected to reshuffle the cards in the race for the position of prime minister in Japan, and there is no strong candidate currently enjoying the consensus of party members, but the most prominent candidate is former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
The prime minister was elected to head his LDP party on September 14 last year and was elected in the Japanese parliament two days later to become the Prime Minister following the resignation of Shinzo Abe from the post for health reasons.