Asia World

Fri 03 September 2021:

After receiving harsh criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stated on Friday that he will not stand for his party’s leadership, thus stepping down as prime minister.

“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 in Tokyo.

“I decided to focus on coronavirus measures,” Kyodo News Agency cited him as saying.

“The battle against the coronavirus takes a vast amount of energy and I don’t feel it is possible to carry on with that and fight the upcoming election for the party leadership,” said Suga in a brief statement to reporters, during which he took no questions.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will hold its presidential polls to choose Suga’s successor on Sept. 29. The prime minister is currently also the president of the party, with his term to end on Sept. 30.


Earlier, Suga had said he intended to run for a second term.

Suga rose to party leadership last year after the sudden resignation of his predecessor Shinzo Abe, who stepped down as premier on health grounds.

The elections come at a time when Suga’s public rating is down, largely due to his administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has battered the health and financial infrastructure of the world’s third economy.

General elections are also around the corner in Japan as the term of parliament’s lower house ends on Oct. 21.

Not standing for party leadership in Japan effectively also means that Suga will not hold the premier’s post.

Suga addressed an extraordinary meeting of the LDP executives on Friday where he said he would “serve out his term through Sept. 30.”

According to the prime minister’s office, Japan has reported 1,524,679 COVID-19 cases, including 16,184 deaths, since the outbreak.

Before taking the top office Suga served in the prominent role of chief cabinet secretary, and he had earned a fearsome reputation for wielding his power to control Japan’s sprawling and powerful bureaucracy.

The son of a strawberry farmer and a schoolteacher, Suga was raised in rural Akita in northern Japan and put himself through college after moving to Tokyo by working at a factory.





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