Suga not giving speeches for PLD candidates in Tokyo election: the Asahi Shimbun


Liberal Democratic Party leader Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga refrained from dropping LDP candidates on the streets during the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election campaign as he crumbles in the polls.

Suga’s absence did not go unnoticed, as opposition party leaders gave speeches in support of the candidates, while taking precautions against the novel coronavirus, ahead of the July 4 vote.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the junior coalition partner, Komeito, Yukio Edano, leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and Kazuo Shii, leader of the Japanese Communist Party, all hit the pavement to boost their candidates.

The ruling party has said Suga has prioritized responding to the rise in new coronavirus infections amid the ongoing health crisis, but some party members feel uncomfortable about his absence in the electoral battle for the capital.

“His main priorities are his various functions (as Prime Minister), such as policy measures against COVID-19, and (whether he can come out to support the candidates) will be decided based on his schedule, among others. considerations, “said the Secretary General of the Cabinet. Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference on July 1.

But the unofficial explanation is that the heat is too hot for Suga ahead of the Olympics.

“He has been criticized for hosting the Olympics amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” a cabinet minister said. “If he is going to support candidates on sites, he could draw criticism from the public.”

Suga only took the microphone on June 25, the day the election campaign kicked off, in front of the LDP headquarters.

“Only LDP candidates, who really know what is going on on the ground, can (correctly) implement policies,” he told LDP members and staff.

But since this first appearance, his absence has been glaring.

Suga also refrained from pushing back party candidates in April’s three parliamentary elections, which the ruling PLD completely lost.

“It’s hard to ask Suga to come and help because he’s in the sights of the Olympics,” said a Tokyo Lower House lawmaker.

Meanwhile, Suga has expressed concern about the development of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly’s election campaign and is working to send cabinet ministers to support the candidates, sources said.

All of this comes as polls suggest Suga faces headwinds ahead of the upcoming Lower House election.

According to a poll conducted by The Asahi Shimbun on June 19 and 20, the approval rating of the Prime Minister’s Office fell to 34 percent, the lowest level since his government was formed.

A poll conducted on June 26 and 27 among Tokyo residents put its approval rate at just 30% and its disapproval rate at 59%.

“If Suga is standing in the streets for the countryside, people would taunt him,” another minister said. “If the candidate loses, Suga will also bear the blame. “

Its defensive posture marks a radical break with that of its predecessors.

According to an analysis by Asahi Shimbun, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made campaign speeches at least three times on behalf of the candidates in the last Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections in 2017. He also supported the candidates in the street just after its return from Europe to the metropolis of Tokyo. election of the assembly in 2013.

For the 2009 elections, then Prime Minister Taro Aso took the unprecedented decision to visit all the campaign seats of the LDP-backed candidates even before the campaign began.

Political observers see the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections in 2021 as a prelude to the dissolution and election of the Lower House before the fall.

Some LDP members are concerned whether Suga, who failed to make any gains for the party in the last election, may be a symbolic icon in the upcoming lower house election.

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