Suga stated to reporters that he originally intended to run for the Liberal Democratic Party's leadership position in the September 29 election. However, he found it difficult to balance his efforts between leading the response to the pandemic in Japan and running for the LDP job.
Suga stated that he had decided not to run for party leadership elections as he would rather focus on coronavirus mitigation.
Suga was criticised for his slow response to the coronavirus and for staging the Olympics despite public health concerns. He said that he had put his all into important policies, including the virus response, since he was elected.
He said, "But doing both takes immense energy and I have decided to just choose one." "As I've repeatedly stated to people, protecting lives and health of people is my prime minister's responsibility, and that's where I'll dedicate myself."
The move of Suga is seen largely as a political one to ensure that the LDP has a new leader before any national elections later in the year. Elections for the new Parliament must take place by November. The term in the lower house ends in October.
After Shinzo Abe, his predecessor, resigned over health issues, Shinzo Suga was elected to office in September of last year.
Suga, the son a strawberry farmer in Japan's northern prefecture, Akita, received support ratings of up to 70% during his tenure. This was because he was a leader of the common people and not from blue-blood political families such as Abe.
Suga introduced a number of practical measures, including administrative reforms and digital transformation. However, his support ratings dropped quickly because his virus measures were perceived as too slow or too small to stop growing epidemics. According to the most recent media surveys, his support ratings are now at 26%.