Sep 3, 2021 - World

Japan's Prime Minister Suga to step down after one year in office

Suga
Suga detailing his resignation on Japanese television. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday he will not seek re-election as the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party this month, bringing his time as prime minister to an end ahead of a general election on Nov. 28.

Why it matters: Japan is the world's third-largest economy and a key U.S. ally. Suga became the first world leader to visit the White House in-person in April, where he and President Biden announced a "new era" in U.S.-Japan relations aimed in part at countering China's influence in the Indo-Pacific.

The big picture: The 72-year-old Suga saw his approval rating plummet after a surge in COVID-19 cases that coincided with the Tokyo Olympics.

  • His short stint in office followed that of Shinzo Abe, who was the longest-serving prime minister in Japan's history before he resigned in September 2020 due to chronic health issues.
  • Suga's departure may spark fears of a return to revolving-door leadership in Japan. The country had 17 prime ministers in the 14 years before Abe took office in 2012.

What to watch: The dominant LDP is still favored to win Japan's parliamentary elections in November, and neither of Suga's likely successors — former foreign minister Fumio Kishida and former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi — are expected to change his general policies, per the Wall Street Journal.

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