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Suga extends COVID-19 state of emergency by 12 days for political reasons

On the GOJ’s official decision on Tuesday to extend the ongoing coronavirus state of emergency through Sept. 12, Asahi and Nikkei claimed that Prime Minister Suga chose to extend the declaration by 12 days to give himself the option of dissolving the Lower House for a snap election before Sept. 17 when the campaign period for the LDP presidential election is expected to begin. The premier is reportedly sticking to his original plan of seeking reelection uncontested in the LDP race by winning the general election first. He allegedly believes that an LDP victory in the general election would quell his party critics, whose number has been growing in view of the plunge in his approval rate, and ensure an uncontested presidential race. As the prime minister has stated repeatedly that a national election must not be held under a state of emergency, Suga allegedly dismissed a proposal for a three-week extension through Sept. 20 made by Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura so that he can maintain his grip on power and call a snap election ahead of the start of the LDP race, which can be delayed once the general election campaign begins. The papers added that Suga’s political gambit may not work in the face of the relentless surge in infections, with an unnamed cabinet minister saying: “Dissolving the lower chamber in September will be impossible. The prime minister should rethink his reelection strategy.”

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