Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday indicated his intention to seek re-election as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in an upcoming leadership race.
“It’s no surprise that I will run as the incumbent party president,” Suga said on a television program. His current term is due to expire in late September.
While the Suga Cabinet’s approval rate is falling amid another resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the country, there apperars to be a lack of promising candidates to replace him within the LDP at the moment.
On his Cabinet’s falling approval rate, the prime minister said, “I think there are various reasons, but I accept it humbly.”
A Jiji Press poll showed Friday that the Cabinet’s approval rate slid 3.8 percentage points from June to 29.3%, the lowest level since its launch in September last year.
“It’s necessary for us to implement our promises to the people and face their judgment on the results,” Suga said.
Suga also indicated he was unlikely to shuffle his Cabinet before the next House of Representatives election, due to be held by autumn. “Under the current Cabinet, (the government) will make all-out efforts” to prioritize the rollout of the vaccine.
He didn’t give a clear answer when asked if he will dissolve the Lower House for a general election ahead of the expiry of lawmakers’ terms.
Meanwhile, the prime minister expressed his eagerness to finish COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone hoping to be vaccinated in the country as soon as possible, by around October and November.
Suga said the proportion of older people who have received their first vaccine shots has exceeded 80% and the rate of those who have got their second is now around 54%. The government aims to complete vaccinations for older people by the end of this month.
“While there is criticism about vaccine shortages, it’s true that we are able to give 1.2 million shots per day,” he claimed.
Frustrated about time-consuming vaccine and drug approval processes, he said, “I definitely want to realize law revisions (in preparation for future pandemics).”
With the Tokyo Olympics set to be held without spectators, Suga said it is still important for the Games to create emotional moments for people in Japan and around the world.
Suga said he plans to watch the Games on television, not at venues, and prioritize his official duties.
Amid the pandemic, the prime minister stressed the need for his administration and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to join hands to hold the Games, in order to gain public understanding.
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