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Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai (pic) conceded to stepping down in a meeting with Suga yesterday. — Pool pic via Reuters
Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai (pic) conceded to stepping down in a meeting with Suga yesterday. — Pool pic via Reuters

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TOKYO, Aug 31 — A powerful ruling party ally of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga could be replaced in a reshuffle ahead of the general election planned for October, media said today, ending the term of one of the country’s top power brokers.

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai conceded to stepping down in a meeting with Suga yesterday, the reports said, as the premier made a move to shore up support for himself by replacing the unpopular executive.

The reshuffle of the party executive could come before the LDP votes on its leadership on September 29, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

The winner of the contest is all but assured of being the premier due to the LDP’s majority in the lower house and will guide the party through a general election, with the government considering a plan to hold the poll on October 17.

Whoever leads the party in the general election will face an uphill battle.

Suga’s support ratings are at record lows as he failed to capitalise on delivering the Olympics for the country, currently being hit hard by a fresh wave of coronavirus infections. The government has declared a fourth state of emergency in most of the country amid a sluggish vaccination rollout.

Observers say many younger parliamentarians have voiced their unease with the amount of power wielded by Nikai, 82, who has held the key LDP post for five years, effectively allowing him control over campaign funds.

Suga’s rival for the party leader, soft-spoken former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, sparked ire from party executives last week after he proposed limits on executive posts and promised to promote young and middle-level lawmakers over heavyweights. — Reuters

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