© Bloomberg. Taro Kono
(Bloomberg) – Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono has said he expects a general election in October, contradicting comments from the man who is expected to become the next prime minister, who said the poll would take place later.
Kono, billed as a future Japanese leader, made the comments Wednesday in an online forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Speculation about a snap election was fueled by a surge in favor of ailing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office in polls released last week, just as Yoshihide Suga became the front-runner to succeed him.
Suga, who is expected to be selected as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party next week as Abe resigns for health reasons, said on Tuesday the country was not in a state of general election given the virus epidemic. The LDP is expected to use its majority in parliament to elect Suga, Abe’s right-hand man, as prime minister on September 16.
The timing of elections is the prime minister’s prerogative and none should be held for about a year. Polls have shown that most people oppose the idea of a vote before the end of 2020.
LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito has expressed caution over the idea of an early election. Party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said earlier this week that fighting the coronavirus should be the top priority, national broadcaster NHK reported.
A newly unified opposition party is expected to elect a leader on Thursday in an attempt to offer a more convincing alternative. But the PLD, which has ruled Japan almost continuously since 1955, is virtually guaranteed to retain its majority in the next election due to a huge roster of incumbents, solid funding, and a much higher rate of public support. to that of the opposition.
The second wave of cases of the virus in Japan has declined in recent weeks, with around 500 new infections reported on September 9, about a third of the levels seen a month earlier. The economic effects were disastrous, with the country experiencing its worst contraction on record during the April-June quarter.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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