Calls for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to step down and take responsibility for the political funds scandal that has damaged the Liberal Democratic Party’s credibility are growing among local chapters, as the party prepares for its presidential election in September.

Senior party leaders are increasingly concerned that the LDP would suffer heavy losses in a Lower House election, which does not have to be held until the fall in 2025, though Kishida can call a snap election anytime.

Local party officials blame their party’s unpopularity on the prime minister, who is also LDP president, for the way he handled the scandal, which involved unreported kickbacks to faction members from fundraising party ticket sales, and the subsequent debate over a bill aimed at toughening up the rules on the reporting of political funds.