May 19, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Japan is likely to hold a general election in the fall after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party concludes its leadership vote in September, according to a top official in a coalition party.

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Voters often pay more attention to the ruling LDP during its leadership election, and support tends to be high immediately after the event, said Keiichi Ishii, secretary general of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito. He made the comments in an interview recorded last week and broadcast Sunday on a TV Tokyo outlet.

While Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tried to cool speculation about a general election, his LDP has been rocked by a slush fund scandal that has eroded support for his government and spurred talk that his days as premier may be numbered. Should the slide in popularity continue, the LDP could seek to replace him in conjunction with its leadership vote.

Read more: Japan’s PM Kishida Apologizes, Vows Reform in Ethics Panel

The share of voters saying they don’t support the government reached its highest since 1947 in a Mainichi newspaper poll released in February. Many respondents to a series of surveys saying they are dissatisfied with Kishida’s attempts to tackle the problem of undeclared income by politicians. A separate scandal over LDP links to a fringe religion has also weighed on support.

No general election need be held until 2025 and opposition parties have failed to capitalize on Kishida’s woes, with their support rates mostly limited to single figures. This means the LDP and Komeito are almost certain to retain power when the vote is held.

–With assistance from Mayumi Negishi.

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