Suga set to reshuffle LDP before leadership race

Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide is planning to reshuffle executives of his Liberal Democratic Party next week, ahead of the LDP's leadership race later this month.

Suga on Wednesday dismissed speculation that he may dissolve the Lower House in mid-September and call a snap general election. He said the top priority is tackling the coronavirus and it would be impossible to dissolve the Diet under the current severe situation.

Suga also ruled out the possibility that he may delay the LDP's presidential election. Campaigning for the race officially begins on September 17 and voting is scheduled for September 29.

A majority of party members think Suga's remarks are only natural as a decision to postpone the leadership election would not win public support.

Suga is planning to reshuffle the party executives as early as next Monday after gaining the approval of an extraordinary board meeting on Friday.

Suga plans to remove Nikai Toshihiro as secretary-general. Nikai has kept the post for five years -- the longest in the party's history.

Suga is also said to be considering personnel changes in the Cabinet. But a senior government official expressed the view that there may be no major Cabinet reshuffle as the government is facing many challenges, including measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Some party members expect young or female lawmakers will be picked to gain public support. Others say the new lineup should clearly show what course of action the Suga administration is aiming for.

Some members also say that taking up executive posts could be risky. A number of young lawmakers said in a meeting on Wednesday that the prime minister should explain why he intends to make personnel changes at this time.