The head of government will not run again for the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party. Due to the response to the pandemic, his approval rating has dropped to just over 30%. The new Liberal Democratic leader will most likely be the new prime minister.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will not run again at the end of the month at the head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LdP). The premier made the announcement today after mounting criticism of his response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"I had planned to run, but dealing with both COVID-19 and the election would require an enormous amount of energy. I decided that there was no way to do both, that I had to choose," Suga told reporters, adding, "I decided to focus on coronavirus measures." The prime minister will serve out his term until Sept. 30 and then resign.
According to a source close to Suga, the premier had intended to carry out a reshuffle of the party's leadership, including the replacement of Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, but given the low public support, he gave it up. Nikai said Suga has not named a successor, so the Liberal Democratic Party's leadership campaign will be held as planned before the general election - the lower house of parliament will dissolve on Oct. 21.
"Honestly, I'm surprised. It's truly regrettable. He did his best but after careful consideration, he made this decision" Nikai said.
In recent days, Suga has been forced to extend the state of emergency against Covid-19 to 21 of Japan's 47 prefectures. Although the number of new cases has begun to fall, the Japanese archipelago still recorded nearly 20,000 new infections a day in the last week.
When Suga came to power a year ago, succeeding Shinzo Abe, the approval rate for him was 60 percent. According to a KyodoNews poll, it has now plummeted to 31.8% due to the pandemic response.