Tokyo, Sept. 4 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, heavily favored to become the next leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Saturday that whether there will be a snap general election after a new prime minister takes office is “up to the new prime minister.”
“As chief cabinet secretary, I often told reporters asking when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will dissolve (the House of Representatives) that ‘if the prime minister says he will, it will happen, and if not, it won’t,'” Suga said on a television program. “It is the same now.”
At the same time, Suga said he will do all he can to address the immediate challenge of the new coronavirus crisis.
The term for the current members of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, ends next October. Ruling and opposition lawmakers believe that if Suga, 71, becomes LDP president, and subsequently prime minister, he may dissolve the Lower House at an early date to call an election.
The LDP presidential election is slated for Sept. 14 after Abe abruptly announced late last month his decision to step down for health reasons. Suga declared his bid to succeed Abe earlier this week.
Suga said that he is “not thinking at all” about who will succeed him in the next administration if he is elected prime minister. He declined direct comment when asked about possible candidates for chief cabinet secretary, such as Defense Minister Taro Kono and LDP parliamentary affairs chief Hiroshi Moriyama.
Suga praised Toru Hashimoto, former mayor of the western Japan city of Osaka, as having “led the way for reform.” But on the possibility of selecting someone who is not a lawmaker as a cabinet minister, he said, “I am not yet (prime minister) so I am not thinking about cabinet appointments.”
Meanwhile, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba and LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida, both 63, appeared on a TV program to appeal for public support for their underdog bids to become LDP chief.
“If the public is not supportive, policies will not be pushed forward,” Ishiba said. “I definitely want to achieve this.”
“I will use all the power I stocked up for this fight,” Kishida said. “That’s all.”