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Yoshihide Suga announces intention to step down after less than a year as Japan’s Prime Minister

On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced he will not run in the forthcoming leadership election for his party. This announcement effectively cedes the position and opens the race to other candidates after he has been prime minister for less than a year. Suga assumed the position last September after his predecessor stepped down due to health concerns. Suga has seen support slump as the growing coronavirus outbreak is becoming difficult to contain. His 11 months in office were marked by growing coronavirus infection rates and slow vaccine rollouts. 

Suga will not stand in the Liberal Democratic Party leadership election on September 29, and the winner of the LDP election is favored to become Prime Minister. Suga was elected as the leader of the LDP party last September with approximately 70% of the votes, but his handling of the pandemic received widespread criticism. His “Go To” campaign ended only as he declared a state of emergency for Tokyo; the campaign offered Japanese citizens discounts to travel. By August, Suga’s approval rating was 31.8% with more than 65% of respondents not wanting him to remain Prime Minister.

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