It all started with a group message among The Japan Times reporters and editors.

“Suga's out?” the message, sent at 11:50 a.m. Friday, said.

I was waiting for a press briefing on the fourth floor of the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters when the message flashed on my smartphone screen. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had entered a room on the eighth floor of the building roughly 20 minutes earlier for an emergency meeting of the party’s top executives, hoping to reach a consensus among attendees on his plan to reshuffle executive lineups.