Suga will not run to maintain party leadership

Japan's Prime Minister will not try to keep the helm of the main governing Liberal Democratic Party. Suga Yoshihide dropped out of its upcoming leadership election, meaning the country will have a new Prime Minister within weeks.

Suga said, "As I was planning to run, I found I needed a lot of energy to think about coronavirus measures and the election campaign. I decided that it's impossible to do both, and that I should devote myself to trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which is something that I promised the people of this country that I would do."

The announcement comes as political parties prepare for a general election, set to be held later this year. Some LDP lawmakers worry they'll have a tough fight as Suga's cabinet approval is tumbling.

Only one of seven factions within the LDP had pledged its united support for his bid to maintain leadership.

The LDP will choose a new president on September 29.

Former foreign minister Kishida Fumio, who lost against Suga last year, says he will run.

Kishida said, "I want to regain public trust for the LDP by demonstrating this is a party that listens to the people and presents a wide range of political options."

Two former internal affairs ministers, Takaichi Sanae and Noda Seiko, also say they want to enter the race.

Two others are still considering whether to run: Kono Taro, the minister in charge of Japan's coronavirus vaccination program, and Ishiba Shigeru, a former defense minister.

Official campaigning starts on September 17.