Suga looking to dissolve lower house in Sept.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga looks on as Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano speaks about the no-confidence motion against the Cabinet during a House of Representatives plenary meeting on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has begun making arrangements to dissolve the House of Representatives in September, government sources said.

At the moment, Suga is prioritizing thorough measures to control the novel coronavirus pandemic and this summer is expected to instruct government officials to formulate major economic measures to rebuild the battered economy and people’s livelihoods.

“The greatest economic measure is to bring the pandemic under control through a two-way strategy of infection prevention measures and vaccination programs,” Suga said Tuesday at a liaison meeting between the government and the ruling parties held at the Prime Minister’s Office. “We must put all our efforts into doing so.”

The term for House of Representatives members expires on Oct. 21, while Suga’s term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will end at the end of September.

A dissolution plan for September, which will be during Suga’s term as LDP president, appears to show his intention to win the lower house election by campaigning on what he believes will be an improved pandemic situation as more people get vaccinated and after what he hopes will be a successful Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Winning the lower house election will likely allow Suga to get through the LDP presidential election without any resistance.

At the earliest, an extraordinary Diet session could be convened after the closing of the Paralympic Games on Sept. 5, with the lower house dissolved at the beginning of the session. Voting would then likely take place on Oct. 10 or 17.

The schedule for the LDP presidential election needs to be decided by the end of August, according to the LDP presidential election rules. Even after this date is finalized, if the prime minister dissolves the lower house before the party presidential election campaign begins, the presidential election procedures will be suspended and implemented on a new schedule after the House of Representatives election.

Also Tuesday during a lower house plenary session, a no-confidence motion was submitted by four opposition parties — the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party For the People and the Social Democratic Party — against the Cabinet for the first time in two years, after the June 2019 motion against the Cabinet led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“During the biggest crisis since World War II, it is unacceptable that [the Cabinet] is refusing to extend the Diet session when the opposition parties are strongly demanding it,” said Yukio Edano, leader of the largest opposition party the CDPJ, in explaining why the no-confidence motion was submitted. “[Suga] is not qualified to lead the country during emergencies.”

As the LDP holds a majority in the lower house, Suga survived the no-confidence vote easily. The LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito was among those to help overwhelmingly defeat the motion.

“The prime minister has support from LDP members and the general public,” said LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai. “I want him to do his best in national affairs.”