Published: 12:32, June 4, 2021 | Updated: 12:32, June 4, 2021
Poll talk shows Suga is tying his future to Games
By Wang Xu in Tokyo

Workers are busy with finishing touches outside the National Stadium, the key site for the Tokyo Olympics, on Wednesday. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)

In a sign of his commitment to the Tokyo Olympics, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is likely to call an early election after the beleaguered Games, according to a media report citing anonymous officials from his ruling party.

The sources said the most likely scenario would be for Suga to dissolve parliament after Sept 5, the scheduled end of the Paralympic Games, and call the election, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Thursday.

Such a course would indicate Suga's intent to hitch his political future to the fate of the rescheduled sports extravaganza.

Under Japan's political schedule, Suga is set to face two electoral tests this year-a vote for presidency of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in late September and a general election that has to be held no later than Oct 22.

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The approval ratings of Suga-the longtime lieutenant of Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister-have plunged to around 30 percent this year compared with the 70 percent support he enjoyed when he took office in September last year by replacing Abe, who resigned due to ill health. Against this backdrop, the Abe loyalist could find reelection a tough battle.

Yet the prime minister is aggressively pushing to hold the Games as planned despite growing opposition amid Japan's struggle to contain a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.

On Wednesday, Shigeru Omi, Japan's top medical adviser, told a parliamentary committee that it would not be right to host the Olympics amid the current state.

However, Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee, on Thursday said the Games would go on next month unless the pandemic stops a majority of teams from traveling.