Shigeru Ishiba, former secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Thursday an early dissolution of the House of Representatives is not preferable.
Ishiba, a longtime rival of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has emerged in recent media polls as the most likely party figure to succeed Abe, whose term as LDP president and thus prime minister will end in September next year.
“I don’t think it should be dissolved,” Ishiba said in a speech at Kyodo News headquarters in Tokyo, referring to the continued impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
He added the Lower House should only be dissolved when a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet is passed.
Ishiba’s remarks contrast with those of Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, a close aide of Abe, who said earlier this week he thinks it is preferable to hold a general election this fall rather than wait until next year when the current four-year Lower House members’ term ends.
Speculation about a possible general election this fall has been rife among political circles, with some ruling and opposition lawmakers already preparing for an election.
But the LDP’s coalition partner Komeito has been negative about dissolving the Lower House for a snap election and some LDP members echo the view in light of a downward trend in approval ratings for the Abe Cabinet on public dissatisfaction over its handling of the coronavirus epidemic.
It is up to the prime minister to decide when to dissolve the lower chamber. The current term for Lower House members will end in October next year, and an election must be held by then.