Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed his intention to resign Friday amid mounting criticism over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyodo reported.
The development came just under a year after Suga took office and as his ruling Liberal Democratic Party prepares to hold its presidential election on Sept. 29, with campaigning starting on Sept. 17.
"I had planned to run, but dealing with both COVID-19 and the election would require an enormous amount of energy. I decided that there was no way to do both, that I had to choose," Suga told reporters, adding, "I decided to focus on coronavirus measures."
Tokyo stocks extended their gains after the news reports, with the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gaining 524.99 points, or 1.84 percent, from Thursday to 29,068.50 as of 1 p.m.
Suga was quoted by a participant at an extraordinary meeting of LDP executives held earlier in the day, as saying he will serve out his term through Sept. 30.
A source at the prime minister's office said Suga hit a snag in his plans to reshuffle the party's executives, which he hoped to carry out on Monday.
Facing low public support, Suga has been planning to reshuffle party executives as well as his Cabinet lineup ahead of the party contest, including replacing LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, the party's No. 2 leader of five years.
Source: Saudi Press Agency