Suga government chronology

Suga Yoshihide became the 99th prime minister of Japan in September last year following a landslide victory in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election earlier in the month. He succeeded Abe Shinzo.

At its start, his Cabinet got a high approval rating of 62 percent in an NHK poll. The government vowed to work for the Japanese people and promptly implement policies that were deemed necessary.

The government was successful in getting mobile phone carriers to reduce their rates. It also worked to digitalize administrative procedures, resulting in the inauguration of the digital agency on Wednesday.

Suga also announced that Japan would work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

He visited the United States in April. He was the first foreign leader to meet US President Joe Biden in person after he took office. The two discussed how to deal with China among other things.

In June, Suga attended the Group of Seven summit in Britain.

However, Suga was not free of scandals.

Senior officials of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry were punished for violating the ethics code for public servants after it was found that they had been entertained by officials of a satellite broadcasting firm, including Suga's eldest son.

The prime minister has also struggled to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, with Japan currently dealing with a fifth wave of infections.

Suga promoted a "Go To Travel" subsidy campaign with the hope that it would help resuscitate demand for domestic tourism. But the campaign was suspended nationwide last December after the virus situation showed no signs of abating.

Since the start of this year, Suga has been forced to declare states of emergency and other restrictive measures in many parts of Japan to cope with the virus. Under the measures, restaurants and bars have been asked to stop serving alcohol and allowing karaoke. Many businesses, including eating establishments, have been asked to reduce their operating hours.

Suga worked to accelerate the vaccine rollout. He appointed Kono Taro as minister in charge of the task.

The government says that as of the end of last month, 58.5 million people, or 46 percent of Japan's total population, had been fully inoculated.

The emergency declaration has been repeatedly extended, and the areas covered, expanded.

Since the start of the year, Tokyo has only been free of restrictive measures for less than a month. Some warn that people have become complacent, and that the effect of the measures has been weakened.

In the midst of the states of emergency, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were held after being postponed for a year. Most of the events were held without spectators.

In politics, the ruling LDP has faced an uphill battle in national and local elections during Suga's term.

The opposition camp won all three Lower and Upper House seats up for grabs in elections in April. The Liberal Democratic Party either lost or did not field a candidate.

In the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election in July, the party became the largest force in the assembly but still failed to secure a majority even with its junior coalition partner Komeito. The LDP won 33 seats, the second lowest number ever.

The result of the Yokohama mayoral election held late last month sent another shock wave. Suga represents a Lower House district in the city.

The election was won by Yamanaka Takeharu, supported by the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party. With a comfortable margin, he defeated former chief of the National Public Safety Commission Okonogi Hachiro, whom Suga backed.

The Cabinet's approval rating has continued to drop in line with the virus situation. In an NHK poll last month, the ratio of respondents who said they support the Suga Cabinet hit a record low of 29 percent.

Suga's current term as LDP president expires at the end of this month. He has repeatedly said that he intends to run for reelection in the party presidential election later this month.

While Cabinet ministers and senior party executives announced support for Suga's reelection, younger LDP lawmakers have expressed concern that they may face a struggle in the Lower House election later this year if Suga stays on as prime minister.

In late August, former Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio officially announced that he would run in the party presidential election.

Suga had indicated that he wanted to reshuffle the party leadership next Monday and run for reelection.

But on Friday, Suga told a meeting of LDP executives that he would not run in the election, saying that he instead plans to devote his efforts to dealing with the pandemic.

He will step down as prime minister after about a year on the job.