Suga, who succeeded Shinzo Abe last September due to morbidness, has noticed his approval ratings drop below 30% as the nation struggles with its worst wave of COVID-19 infections ahead of a general election this year. Along with this, increasing uncertainties about his administration have declined his chance at being a second-term Prime Minister.
"I had planned to run, but dealing with both COVID-19 and the election would require an enormous amount of energy. I decided that there was no way to do both and that I had to choose," Suga told reporters.
Accompanied by Suga's ruling not to run in the September 29 Liberal Democratic Party presidential election, the LDP will have to choose a new leader who will become a Prime Minister. Several senior Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers and members, such as former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, vaccination minister Taro Kono, and former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi, have expressed their intentions on the Prime Minister's seat. The campaigning period will start on September 17. Suga said at an annual general meeting of LDP officials earlier Friday that he will fulfill his term as LDP president within September 30.
The public anticipates Suga to stay on until the next-in-line leader has succeeded in the party election slated for September 29. The successor, guaranteed of being Chief-of-State due to the LDP's majority in the lower house of parliament, is obliged to order the general election.
BRAND-NEW ASPIRANT LEADERS
On Thursday, a self-professed aspirant for Japan's next leader, Fumio Kishida, criticized Suga's coronavirus response and recommended a big stimulus package to contend the pandemic.
"Kishida is the top runner for the time being, but that doesn't mean his victory is assured," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University.
On the other hand, previous defense minister Shigeru Ishiba stated that he was ready to contend if the contingencies and environment are right. Ishiba is also famous with the public as a potential Prime Minister.
A former foreign and defense minister, Kono, 58, is popular with younger voters after building support through Twitter. He garnered 2.3 million followers - uncommon in Japanese politics ruled by older men and less social media-savvy.