Japan PM Suga mulls reshuffling ruling party execs next week – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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Japan PM Suga mulls reshuffling ruling party execs next week

Written by on August 31, 2021

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is considering reshuffling executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party next week, including Toshihiro Nikai, the party’s longest-serving secretary general whom some have criticized for a high-handed approach, people close to Suga said Tuesday.

Suga, who heads the LDP, is expected to hold talks with the 82-year-old, who has already agreed to give up the party’s No. 2 post that he has held since 2016, to discuss the personnel changes as well as the party’s presidential election, currently scheduled for Sept. 29, and a general election to be held later this year.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends a Cabinet meeting at his office in Tokyo on Aug. 31, 2021, wearing a face mask amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Despite low public support for the government due to its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Nikai has already expressed support for Suga’s re-election as LDP president.

A fresh term would effectively ensure Suga remains prime minister as the LDP and its smaller coalition ally Komeito are expected to remain in power after the election for the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of parliament.

Nikai, known as the main power broker in the ruling party, orchestrated Suga’s landslide victory in last year’s LDP presidential election that was held following the abrupt resignation of Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe due to health reasons.

With Suga’s tenure as LDP president running out on Sept. 30, the party is set to hold a leadership race on Sept. 29 with campaigning starting on Sept. 17.

But the leadership election may now be postponed with Suga’s term temporarily extended as government sources said his government may consider a plan to hold a general election on Oct. 17, several days before the expiration of the four-year term for lower house members.

Under the scenario, Suga would not dissolve the lower house and official election campaigning would start on Oct. 5.

The schedule for a general election is still fluid and discussions are likely to be held within the LDP executive board and other venues, according to the sources.

On Tuesday, former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who has declared his candidacy for the upcoming LDP presidential race, told reporters that the leadership election should be held as scheduled.

Meanwhile, the government and ruling camp have decided not to convene an extraordinary session of parliament before the LDP leadership race despite demands by opposition parties to do so, coalition sources said.

Last week, the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan urged the LDP to hold an extra Diet session from Sept. 7 through Sept. 16 to discuss the compilation of a fiscal 2021 supplementary budget to deal with the pandemic, with the Japanese Communist Party also arguing the LDP leadership race should wait.

Related coverage:

Japan may opt for Oct. 17 election without dissolving lower house

Ex-Foreign Minister Kishida announces bid for LDP leadership

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