Japan's Suga signals chance of calling snap election: Asahi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga signalled the possibility of calling a snap election if he were to become the country’s next prime minister, the Asahi newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Suga, a frontrunner to succeed incumbent prime minister Shinzo Abe, also stressed Japan’s resolve to hold next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’d like to contain the pandemic and make this happen,” Suga was quoted as saying in an interview by Asahi. “There are various, extraordinary merits for Japan to host the Games.”

He also said the views of pandemic experts were important in judging whether COVID-19 was slowing down enough for the next prime minister to call a snap election, according to Asahi.

“There’s no change to my stance as chief cabinet minister that what the public wants from the government most is to focus on measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic,” Suga was quoted as saying.

“But the prime minister has the right to dissolve parliament (and call a snap election). If the next premier decides to call one, that should be the case. If not, it won’t happen,” he said.

Suga is widely expected to win the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) leadership election on Sept. 14, a date set after Abe’s decision to step down last month. The winner is virtually assured of becoming premier because of the LDP’s parliamentary majority.

Markets have been rife with speculation that Suga, upon becoming prime minister, may call a snap election in coming months to solidify his political grip.

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