• Kyodo, Jiji

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declined to answer a question about whether he will run for another term in a TV program on Sunday as the country struggles to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Asked about running in the presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which effectively decides the country’s prime minister, Suga only said, “I will focus on doing my job steadily each day.”

Suga became prime minister in September to serve out the remainder of Shinzo Abe’s term through next September.

While he can call a general election before the House of Representatives term ends on Oct. 21, he only said, “I want to make sure I get things I have promised done.”

His remarks come as the country is seeing a resurgence of coronavirus infections and support ratings for Suga’s Cabinet have plunged, reflecting dissatisfaction with his pandemic response.

On Friday, Suga asked the public to spend the New Year holidays “quietly” to contain the spread of the virus and prevent the collapse of the medical system.

Having served nearly eight years as chief Cabinet secretary where he dealt with crisis management under Abe, Suga said he feels comfortable working even during holiday seasons.

Regarding a postponed visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan as a state guest, Suga said both countries need to prioritize antivirus measures and are “not in a situation to arrange a schedule at the moment.”

Suga also said he hopes to visit the United States as soon as February for talks with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

Tokyo will arrange the visit with Washington while keeping an eye on the COVID-19 situation in the United States, he said.

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