(Update 1: adds Suga’s remarks from presser)
Tokyo, Sep 3 (EFE).- Japan’s prime minister said Friday that would not be running for re-election as leader of the ruling party, effectively announcing his resignation.
Yoshihide Suga announced his decision at an extraordinary meeting of the executive board of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Friday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.
The prime minister, who has been the country’s prime minister since September last year after the resignation of his predecessor Shinzo Abe, due to health reasons, will not participate in the LDP’s internal elections that will be held on Sep. 29 to choose the party’s leader and candidate for the next general elections in Japan.
According to the Japanese media reports, Suga also informed his party of his intention to resign from the leadership position before the end of his term at the end of the month, thereby advancing the date his mandate was scheduled to conclude in the coming months with the end of the legislature.
“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 said at a brief press conference, local news agency Kyodo reported.
“I decided to focus on coronavirus measures,” he added.
The 72-year-old conservative politician, whose public approval rating has sunk in recent months as a result of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, will step down as the party’s leader to make way for other potential candidates to lead the Japanese government.
The four-year term for House of Representatives members comes to an end on Oct. 21 and the next general elections to elect the country’s next prime minister must be convened by Nov. 28 at the latest.
Suga, a LDP veteran who became prime minister after serving as Abe’s right-hand man and gaining the support of the main factions of the party, seems to have lost that support due to the continual decline in his popularity throughout his mandate.
Among those expected to succeed him is former foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, who has also been critical of Suga’s anti-Covid measures.
The LDP, which has predominantly controlled the governing power in Japan since the end of World War II, is expected to remain in power in the upcoming elections. EFE