Japan ruling party election loss a blow to Suga government

Japan's ruling party suffered a triple blow at by-elections over the weekend, as voter frustration with scandals and government management of the coronavirus risked weakening the influence of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government.

Suga's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost all three seats in parliamentary by-elections on Sunday (Apr 25), polls widely seen as a verdict on his administration and a bellwether for a crucial Lower House election later this year.

The votes, for seats in both the Upper House and the more powerful lower chamber, were the first significant ballots since Suga took power last September. Two of the seats were left open due to political scandals and a third after the death of a lawmaker from COVID-19.

"I intend to take the people's decision with humility, and make amends where amending is necessary after conducting further analysis," Suga told reporters on Monday, adding that fighting the pandemic is his priority.

Anger with a vote-buying and a separate bribery scandal, as well as with the government's handling of the pandemic and a tortuously slow vaccine rollout, played about equal roles on the election outcome, analysts said.

- channelnewsasia.com