All networks reported at noon on the results of the Yokohama mayoral race on Sunday, in which former cabinet member Okonogi Hachiro, who was backed by Prime Minister Suga, suffered a major defeat. Fuji TV said that Okonogi’s defeat sent shockwaves through the LDP, with some beginning to fear that they will not be able to win the upcoming Lower House election under the leadership of Suga. The network said the scenario of Suga winning the LDP presidency uncontested is beginning to unravel, quoting a senior LDP member as saying: “The possibility of [Suga] winning the party presidency without a vote in September has disappeared.”
On the Yokohama mayoral race, Prime Minister Suga reportedly told the press this morning: “The results were very regrettable. The citizens of Yokohama voted on the basis of the novel coronavirus and other issues. I will sincerely accept the results.” Fuji TV said although the premier expressed his frustration over the results of the mayoral race, an LDP source expressed alarm by saying: “Nothing seemed to work. This is the result of the public’s frustration and criticism of the government’s handling of the novel coronavirus.” The network added that there is a growing view among the LDP that dissolving the Lower House for a snap election in September has become difficult, saying that LDP lawmakers, especially young and middle-ranking members, are becoming increasingly wary of having Suga as the election figurehead. The network said LDP policy chief Shimomura, former Internal Affairs Minister Takaichi, and former LDP policy chief Kishida are making final preparations to run for the LDP leadership race, saying that Suga’s re-election is becoming increasingly uncertain.