PM Suga to face internal leadership battle: LDP revolving chairs during Covid crisis

PM Suga to face internal leadership battle: LDP revolving chairs during Covid crisis

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

The ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis is at its height in Japan concerning high daily infections. All this is happening despite the staging of the Olympics and Paralympics – and with Tokyo and other parts of Japan being under the State of Emergency – or quasi measures. Therefore, the timing of an internal Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership battle is most disconcerting.

Despite the coronavirus death toll in Japan being below the high numbers witnessed in other G-7 nations, the nation seems to be taking the approach of living with the coronavirus until vaccinations, new anti-virals, and other similar angles render the coronavirus to be less effective. In East Asia and Oceania – from China to New Zealand – these nations have taken a zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus by seeking to erase infections based on stricter measures. Hence, many people feel exasperated by Suga’s approach because no financial support is forthcoming for people suffering from the horrendous economic convulsions of this virus.

Suga is unpopular without a shadow of a doubt. However, the LDP is still forecast to be the largest party when elections are held later this year. Thus, with Fumio Kishida, the former Foreign Minister, throwing his political hat in the ring after failing to lead the party last year, he appears overly opportunistic.

Lee Jay Walker says, “Few people would doubt that Kishida would bring a sense of proportion to the Foreign Ministry, which is taking a more nationalist and anti-China line under Suga. Yet, Kishida only lost the leadership battle last year to Suga, even if the circumstances meant a more limited polling battle. Therefore, with Japan facing real issues concerning the coronavirus, the electorate would prefer to see a more dynamic LDP administration and opposition parties who provide a strong counter-weight.”

NHK reports, “The party decided on Thursday to accept candidate registrations on September 17 and to hold its presidential election on September 29.”

People should vote on the LDP administration and not on a possible hoodwink that Kishida – and others – might bring if they defeat Suga in the leadership battle. Therefore, the election should focus on the handling of the coronavirus crisis, the economy, and other factors under the leadership of Suga – and if opposition parties offer a better way out of the crisis.

Hence, fresh promises by a new LDP leader before the wider general election is a form of hoodwinking. In this sense, people should vote in the general election on the current LDP administration under Suga and not speculation provided by a new leader. Thus a leadership battle inside the LDP should occur at a later date.

Japan does need viable opposition political parties to challenge the ruling LDP.


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