Yomiuri wrote that Prime Minister Suga’s calculus that the Tokyo Olympics would help boost his dwindling public support apparently proved wrong in the face of the skyrocketing resurgence of the novel coronavirus. On the 35% cabinet approval rating, an unnamed cabinet member said: “The figure would have been much lower if the Olympics had been canceled,” while another cabinet minister forecast that support for Suga will drop further as people shift their focus from the Olympics to the COVID-19 situation. Claiming that the prime minister had envisioned dissolving the Lower House in mid-September for a snap election in October after concluding the Paralympics successfully on Sept. 5 so as to ensure that he can be reelected as LDP president, the daily conjectured that the premier and his aides are now looking to postpone the general election and the LDP presidential race to ensure that the administration can weather the current fifth wave of COVID-19 by speeding up the vaccination process. The paper added that if former cabinet member Okonogi Hachiro, one of Suga’s confidants, is not able to win the Yokohama mayoral race on Aug. 22, calls may emerge within the ruling party for ousting the premier ahead of the general election.
Asahi ran a similar story, quoting Suga as telling his associates in late July: “I completely miscalculated. I didn’t expect the Delta variant to be this transmissible.” He allegedly made the comment when the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 4,058 cases on July 31. While Japanese athletes’ stellar performance led to the best possible outcome for the Games, this was completely offset by the COVID-19 situation, which proved to be the worst-case scenario for the administration. The article added that an increasing number of LDP politicians are complaining about Suga’s leadership, with one of them saying: “The public is fed up with the prime minister.”