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Japan after Abe

Suga dodges question on whether to call snap election on becoming PM

Some senior lawmakers hinted an early general election following the launch of new Cabinet

Merchandise featuring Japan's expected new prime minister Yoshihide Suga are displayed at designer Ippei Fujita's store Marble in Yuzawa, Akita Prefecture, Japan, Sept.11.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the frontrunner to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on Sunday declined to say whether he would dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election upon becoming premier.

"What the people want the most is to keep a balance between preventing further infections of the novel coronavirus and promoting economic activities," Suga said when asked about a poll a day before he is expected to be elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Abe is stepping down for health reasons.

Suga was speaking on an NHK program along with his two rivals in the LDP leadership race -- Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister and vocal critic of Abe, and Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister and currently the LDP's policy chief.

The new LDP president will be chosen as the next prime minister at an extraordinary Diet session Wednesday, given the party's dominance in the powerful lower house.

Some senior LDP lawmakers have hinted at an early general election following the launch of a new Cabinet, with Defense Minister Taro Kono speculating it could occur in October.

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