Suga opts out of LDP leadership race

NHK -- Sep 03
Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says he will not run in the upcoming leadership election for the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party. This means he is giving up the premiership, and Japan will soon have a new prime minister.

Suga made the announcement at an extraordinary meeting of LDP executives on Friday. Suga reportedly said he will not run in the election because he wants to focus on coronavirus measures. The LDP leadership election is scheduled for September 29.

Suga also reportedly indicated he will not carry out the reshuffle of the party's executive posts that he had hoped to implement on Monday.

Suga had expressed his intention to run when he met LDP Secretary-General Nikai Toshihiro on Thursday.

After the meeting of LDP executives on Friday, Suga told reporters that he had a change of heart. He said, "I thought I should choose to either campaign for the election or concentrate on the anti-coronavirus measures as I can't handle with both enormously energy-consuming tasks. So I decided to focus on the coronavirus to prevent a further spread of the virus."

One challenger for the party leadership is former foreign minister Kishida Fumio. Former internal affairs minister Takaichi Sanae is also interested in making a bid for the post, but she will need the signatures of 20 party lawmakers.

Many people in Japan were surprised by Suga's announcement. A man in his 60s says, "Japanese people are feeling uncertainty about the political situation, and they want politicians who are pro-active in dealing with the coronavirus."

A woman in her 80s says, "I think it's better for Suga not to run for the election as he is losing his popularity. I think his response to the pandemic has not been sufficient."