Suga unlikely to call general election in spring

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
Japan’s National Diet Building is pictured in Tokyo, Japan, May 31, 2021.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is likely to forgo dissolving the House of Representatives and holding a general election in the spring. The novel coronavirus is spreading nationwide, and Suga will concentrate on dealing with the virus for the time being.

The next lower house election is expected to be held either in July or in the autumn, after the Tokyo Olympics (July 23 to Aug. 8) and Paralympics (Aug. 24 to Sept. 5) have been held, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned from government and ruling party officials.

The prime minister will hold his first face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on April 16. The novel coronavirus vaccine will soon be available for the elderly. Within the Liberal Democratic Party, there had been a proposal to enact the digital reform bill, considered important legislation, in April and then to dissolve the House of Representatives and hold a general election in April or May.

However, the government has decided to apply emergency-like “priority measures” to prevent the spread of infections to three prefectures, including Osaka, as well as to Tokyo.

Suga has repeatedly stated that the top priority is to prevent the spread of infections, making it difficult to dissolve the House of Representatives and hold the general election in the spring. The passage of the digital reform bill is also expected to be delayed until mid-May or later.

It is believed that the lower house election will be held on the same day as the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election, which is to be held on July 4 at the earliest. Opposition parties are considering submitting a no-confidence resolution against the Cabinet by the end of the regular Diet session on June 16. The prime minister has said that such a resolution “will serve the cause of dissolution” and if it is submitted at the end of the Diet session, there is a possibility that the election will be held on July 4.

However, Komeito, which places importance on the Tokyo metropolitan assembly elections, is cautious about holding the general election on the same day. A senior LDP official said, “It is natural to hold the lower house election [after the Tokyo Games] in the fall.” The prime minister is poised to make a cautious decision after assessing the status of the infections.