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Suga to replace LDP secretary general ahead of party race, general election

All national papers speculated that Prime Minister Suga has decided to change the LDP leadership lineup prior to the party leadership race and the general election. When meeting with the premier yesterday, Secretary General Nikai reportedly offered to step down by saying: “A change in leadership will be the only way to achieve a breakthrough in the present situation.” Suga reportedly accepted the proposal, thanking the veteran politician for his service. Junior Diet members whose political footing remains vulnerable in their home constituencies and other critics of the embattled prime minister have complained about Nikai wielding considerable influence within the ruling coalition over the past five years as the longest serving secretary general. Nikai was the first LDP heavyweight to publicly give his blessing for the prime minister’s reelection bid and this was interpreted as a ploy to secure the post of secretary general under a second Suga administration.

 

Former Foreign Minister Kishida, who plans to run in the party presidential election on Sept. 29, has underscored the importance of revamping the LDP leadership apparently in a bid to woo Suga’s detractors. Former Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso, who are staunch supporters of Suga, have also allegedly stressed behind the scenes the need to remove Nikai. Suga is now aiming to appoint a new secretary general and other key party officials ahead of the official kickoff of the presidential election campaign on Sept. 17 to call attention to the “fresh faces” among the LDP leadership and prevent Kishida from making Nikai’s presence a key campaign issue.

 

Mainichi and Asahi cited several administration sources as saying that the prime minister is considering holding the general election on Oct. 17, with the official campaign period starting on Oct. 5. He is reportedly inclined not to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election and instead set the timeline for the race with a cabinet decision. The tenure of the current members of the House of Representatives will expire on Oct. 21.

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