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Japanese PM survives vote of no confidence

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Japan’s hard-pressed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has survived a no-confidence vote by the opposition.

With a majority of seats from his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its smaller coalition partner Komeito, the lower house of parliament voted against the opposition’s bill on Tuesday.

The opposition had criticised Suga for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his unwavering commitment to put on the Olympic Games.

The fragmented opposition camp wanted to continue the debate on this, but their demand for an extension of the current parliamentary session was rejected by the government as unnecessary.

The opposition move came just over a month before the Tokyo Olympics were due to start.

The capital is still under a state of emergency until Sunday.

Suga had not ruled out dissolving the parliament early if the no-confidence vote had succeeded.

However, he has said the fight against the pandemic was a priority.

Suga’s term as party leader and prime minister ends on Sept. 30 and he must conduct lower house elections, not later than Oct. 21.

Observers think he is likely to wait until the Tokyo Games are over before calling elections.

A change in the ruling party is considered unlikely due to the fragmented nature and weakness of the opposition camp.

Suga had enjoyed poll ratings around 70 per cent at the beginning of his term.

But a series of scandals, involving nepotism by members of his party, as well as Suga’s handling of the pandemic and the vaccination process that was late to gain momentum, caused his poll ratings to plummet.

His adherence to the Tokyo Olympics in spite of the pandemic has also drawn criticism.

In several polls, a majority of Japanese had called for the games to be postponed again or cancelled altogether.

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