Japan

Suga ‘humbly accepts’ failure to win majority in Tokyo assembly

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mainichi– Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday he “humbly accepts” the failure of his Liberal Democratic Party and its ally Komeito to win a majority of seats in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly in the previous day’s election.

The vote had been closely watched as a bellwether for how Japan’s ruling coalition will fare in the general election, which must be held by the fall.

“I humbly accept the fact that we could not win a majority as promised,” Suga told reporters at his office. “Our Tokyo branch and headquarters will analyze the outcome together and prepare for next time.”

The premier has suggested he will dissolve the House of Representatives, the more powerful chamber of the bicameral parliament, for a general election before his term as LDP leader ends in September. The current four-year terms of lower house members expire on Oct. 21.

But the results of the assembly election are sure to be a confidence-shaker for Suga, whose public support has already fallen amid dissatisfaction with his COVID-19 response and concerns over going ahead with the Tokyo Olympics, set to begin on July 23.

The LDP did manage to displace Tomin First no Kai, the regional party founded by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, as the largest force in the assembly.

“We will do our utmost to fulfill our responsibility to the people of Tokyo,” Suga said.

One of the focuses of the assembly election was whether the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should still be held, and if so, how many spectators should be allowed.

Games organizers decided last month that venues can be filled to 50 percent of capacity with a maximum of 10,000 fans, but are now planning to lower the threshold to 5,000 as the capital sees a rebound in coronavirus cases and appears unlikely to be able to exit a quasi-state of emergency.

Asked for his thoughts on parties such as Tomin First, which is calling for zero spectators, and the Japanese Communist Party, which says the Olympics should be canceled, securing a solid number of seats in the assembly, Suga simply said any decision would be made along with organizers.

Suga said the spectator cap will be decided by five games organizers including the Japanese organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee regardless of the assembly election results.