Japan's Suga not to compete in Liberal Democratic Party leadership election: media
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he did not intend to run in the upcoming leadership election for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, effectively giving up the premiership, NHK reported on Friday.
The LDP is slated to start campaigning on September 17 and hold its presidential election on September 29, with Suga not to run in the race, party officials said. Suga's successor needs to be chosen before a general election ahead of the expiration of the House of Representatives members' term.
Suga on Wednesday ruled out dissolving the House of Representatives for a general election anytime soon, given the current severe COVID-19 situation, and said that the LDP leadership election scheduled for September 29 will not be postponed.
The current term of the lower house members will run through October 21, but the prime minister has the power to dissolve the chamber early and call a general election.
Some LDP lawmakers had thought that Suga would dissolve the lower house in mid-September in order to win at least a modest general election victory before facing off against rivals including former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in the party leadership race.
"I have said COVID-19 countermeasures are my top priority, and that has not changed at all. Considering the severity of the current situation, dissolving (the House of Representatives) isn't possible right now," Suga has said.
Japan is witnessing its largest wave of infection cases, with hospitals struggling to handle a surge in patients with severe symptoms amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.