TOKYO – Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the front-runner to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on Sunday declined to say whether he would dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election upon becoming premier.
“What the people want the most is to keep a balance between preventing further infections of the novel coronavirus and promoting economic activities,” Suga said when asked about a potential general election, a day before he is expected to be elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Abe is stepping down for health reasons.
Suga was speaking on an NHK program along with his two rivals in the LDP leadership race — Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister and vocal critic of Abe, and Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister and currently the LDP’s policy chief.
Some senior LDP lawmakers have hinted at an early general election following the launch of a new Cabinet.
Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said separately Sunday that an election may come “soon.”
The next administration will likely face criticism for being formed without a public mandate, Aso said in a speech in Niigata Prefecture. “If so, I feel like (the new prime minister) is going to dissolve the lower house.”
The LDP faction led by Aso has backed Suga in the presidential race. Defense Minister Taro Kono, a member of the faction, said earlier he expects a general election in October.
The new LDP president will be chosen as the next prime minister at an extraordinary Diet session Wednesday, given the party’s dominance in the lower house.