By-election loss signals Suga’s departure in Japan

Conservative Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday he intended to take his party’s defeats in Sunday’s by-elections with humility and make necessary amends, Reuters reported from Tokyo.

Suga’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party suffered a 3-0 wipeout on Sunday, the same day tougher virus restrictions were placed on a pandemic-weary populace in Hyogo, Kyoto and Japan’s second city of Osaka.

Sunday’s by-elections filled one lower house seat in Hokkaido and two upper house seats in Hiroshima and Nagano. All three seats were won by the main opposition, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP). The loss of Hiroshima – seen as an LDP stronghold – was a particularly damaging blow for Suga’s party.

The result was bad, but hardly mortal, news for the LDP. But there could be worse news ahead for the prime minister.

A general election must be held by October 21, while Suga’s term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP, expires in September.