Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, favored to become the next prime minister, has said he will not aim for an "interim" government to fill in for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will depart in the middle of his current term citing ill health.

In an interview on Saturday, Suga, the right-hand man of Abe, said the government's coronavirus response will be the top priority for the next administration.

"The next administration should not be an interim government," Suga said. "(The next leader) should fulfill duties with confidence and discharge responsibility to the people."