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Former trade minister Isshu Sugawara resigned as a lawmaker Thursday after coming under investigation again over a money-and-gift scandal that prosecutors had once dropped.

Sugawara’s exit, which comes a day after he left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, deals a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who had pushed for Sugawara to become trade minister in September 2019. He left the job under a cloud a month later.

There will be no by-election for Sugawara’s seat as a Lower House election must be held later this year. A total of 848 people are preparing to run in the poll, expected to be called just after the Tokyo Olympics, vying for 465 seats, Jiji reports.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga answers a question from Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano (left) during a Diet committee meeting last month. | KYODO
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga answers a question from Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano (left) during a Diet committee meeting last month. | KYODO

With just two weeks until the end of the Diet session, things are set to heat up as the opposition continues to blast Suga on the coronavirus response while the ruling coalition attempts to push through key bills ahead of the Tokyo assembly election in July and the general election.

A cross-party bill to promote greater understanding of LGBT people, however, has been abandoned for now. Supporters hoped to pass the bill before the Olympics, but LDP conservatives strongly opposed some of the language and stalled the approval process.

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