Japanese PM Suga survives vote of no confidence a month before Tokyo Olympics

Photo: EPA Japan's PM Yoshihide Suga and his spouse Mariko Suga during the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, Britain, 11 June 2021.

Japan's PM Yoshihide Suga survived a no-confidence vote by the opposition on Tuesday, news wires reported. The opposition move came just over a month before the Tokyo Olympics are due to start on 223 July. The capital is still under a state of emergency until Sunday. The opposition has criticized Suga for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his unwavering commitment to put on the Olympic Games.

"They are refusing our calls to extend parliament in the face of one of the worst crises for decades," Yukio Edano, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told the lower house before the vote.

With a majority of seats from Suga's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its smaller coalition partner Komeito, the lower house of parliament voted against the opposition's call.

Suga's term as party leader and prime minister ends on 30 September, and he must call lower house elections no later than 21 October. Observers think he is likely to wait until the Tokyo Games are over before calling elections.

Suga had enjoyed poll ratings around 70% at the beginning of his term. But a series of scandals involving nepotism by members of his party, as well as Suga's handling of the pandemic and the vaccination process that was late to gain momentum, caused his poll ratings to plummet.

His adherence to the Tokyo Olympics despite the pandemic has also drawn criticism. In several polls, a majority of Japanese had called for the games to be postponed again or cancelled altogether.

A new survey by NHK public television showed 37% of respondents approved of Suga's government while 45% disapproved. That was the highest disapproval rating since the prime minister took office last September.

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