All national dailies highlighted a meeting held yesterday between Prime Minister Suga and LDP Secretary General Nikai during which the two officials confirmed that a party presidential election will be held on Sept. 29, with the official campaign period starting on Sept. 17. As a result, the general election will likely be held in October or later. Asked about when the Lower House will be dissolved for a snap election, Suga told the press yesterday: “I’ve been saying that the foremost priority is combating the coronavirus pandemic. A decision will be made while taking this position into account.” Suga reportedly agreed to hold the LDP race in September to address the growing discontent among junior party parliamentarians about his poor track record in stemming the coronavirus outbreak.
Asahi noted that Suga is apparently relying heavily on the support of Nikai, who is reportedly eager to keep his post under a second Suga administration, for his reelection bid. The duo’s close partnership set the stage for Suga to win the party presidency a year ago by prompting other party factions to endorse Suga’s attempt to clinch the top LDP post. While factions effectively led by former Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso also support Suga’s reelection bid, some members are displeased with both Suga and Nikai continuing to lead the ruling party. They are reportedly reluctant to heed their faction leaders’ endorsement of Suga’s reelection especially given that a nationwide field survey that was secretly conducted by the LDP over the weekend suggested that it may lose as many as 40 seats in the coming general election. “The results raised doubts about whether the party can wage the election campaign under the present leadership,” said a junior LDP politician.
In a related development, all national dailies claimed that former Foreign Minister Kishida has decided to run in the LDP race. The seasoned politician will officially announce his candidacy today.