Professor Chris Hughes comments: "Prime Minister Suga's decision to step down at the end of September after only around one year in power is a result of his apparent inability to manage the key domestic issues in front of him.
"Although he hoped for a domestic popularity bounce from a successful hosting of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this has not materialised as his government has been perceived as increasingly inept in dealing with the latest waves of coronavirus and his support ratings have plummeted. Suga might have had the backing of the largest factions in the Liberal Democratic Party but he was increasingly likely to face challenges in the scheduled leadership election at the end of this month.
"Suga has declared he will not run in the leadership race to focus in the next remaining weeks on tackling coronavirus but this is an attempt to save face on what has been a largely misfiring and failed premiership. A number of LDP prominent figures are now preparing for leadership bids with no obvious frontrunner at this point.
"Japan had experienced a period of unprecedented stability during the premiership of Abe Shinzo, Suga’s predecessor, who governed for a record nearly 8 years. The concern is that Japan may be returning to a period of new instability as in the past with the frequent rotation of prime ministers lasting only a year. Japan’s US ally and regional neighbours will also be watching with interest to see if a stronger leader can emerge to assist in dealing with the challenges of a rising China."
3 September 2021
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