PM Suga may call snap election after Tokyo Games

TOKYO • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is likely to call a snap election after the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, a media report said, showing his resolve to push ahead with the Games despite the country's struggle to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government is considering crafting a new economic stimulus package before the expected snap election, the Asahi newspaper said yesterday, citing several anonymous ruling party executives.

However, the government's top spokesman Katsunobu Kato said: "We're not examining a new stimulus package."

Still, when asked about a possible new stimulus plan, he said: "We see the need to revive the economy... and hope to take necessary steps flexibly."

Mr Suga agreed on Wednesday with the head of his ruling coalition partner not to extend the current Parliament session when it closes on June 16.

That means Japan will forgo compiling a supplementary budget for now and tap nearly 4 trillion yen (S$48.3 billion) left in reserves to pay for immediate spending to combat the pandemic, said Asahi.

Last week, ruling party lawmaker Shoji Nishida said: "It's obvious we need an extra budget but Parliament is closing, so we don't have time to pass it. But there should be debate within the party on compiling another stimulus package and an extra budget."

Mr Suga has said he would focus on dealing with the pandemic and that Japan will go ahead with the Tokyo Games under strict virus-protection measures.

Some ruling party lawmakers have called on the government to boost spending to revive an economy hit by new state of emergency curbs to prevent the virus' spread.

Slow vaccine roll-outs and strong public opposition to holding the Games have led to a plunge in Mr Suga's support ratings.

With the Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23, the most likely scenario is for Mr Suga to dissolve Parliament after the Sept 5 end of the Paralympic Games and call a snap election, said Asahi.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2021, with the headline 'PM Suga may call snap election after Tokyo Games'. Subscribe