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Suga unlikely to call snap election in April, May

Tokyo, April 10 (Jiji Press)–Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is unlikely to dissolve the House of Representatives, the all-important lower chamber of Japan’s parliament, for a snap election in April or May.

 

The Suga administration needs to concentrate on its fight against the novel coronavirus for now after deciding to expand COVID-19 pre-emergency “priority” measures to newly include Tokyo and two other prefectures, effective from Monday until early May.

 

A snap election “definitely will not take place” in spring, an aide to Suga said.

 

This means that his snap election options are now limited largely to a period before or after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics from July 23 to Sept. 5.

 

This month, Japan will start coronavirus vaccinations for elderly people Monday. On Friday, Suga is set to become the first foreign leader to have in-person talks with U.S. President Joe Biden since his January inauguration.

 

Speculation was rife over a possible Lower House dissolution in April or May among members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party expecting that these events will help lift public support for Suga’s cabinet.

 

But the speculation has faded.

 

The priority measures are set to continue until May 11 in Tokyo, later than the other prefectures subject to the measures.

 

In addition, concerns are mounting over a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

 

The government’s plan to get Diet approval of a set of digital transformation bills, a key policy of Suga, will likely be pushed back to mid-May.

 

There will be no snap election “in this season,” a senior LDP member said. “It seems that Suga wants to do what he needs to do now.”

 

The opposition camp appears to be preparing to submit a no-confidence motion against Suga’s cabinet during the current Diet session, set to end on June 16.

 

The ruling bloc warns that such a motion would justify a Lower House dissolution.

 

An LDP lawmaker close to Suga sees no option other than holding a snap election on the same day as the July 4 Tokyo assembly election.

 

Meanwhile, there is a persisting view that Suga actually wants to dissolve the lower chamber in autumn after the Tokyo Games.

 

Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, does not want “the double election” as it puts priority on the Tokyo assembly poll, a senior LDP member said.

 

The member also said, “The atmosphere will change nationwide after the Tokyo Games.”

 

Suga’s term as LDP president expires at the end of September. A Lower House election needs to take place before the terms of the chambers’ current members ends on Oct. 21.

 

Political circumstances may make it impossible for him to choose a timing he likes. He faces a difficult decision.

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