Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says he won't run for the leadership of the governing party later this month, paving the way for a new Japanese leader.
Suga told reporters Friday that he will not run in the Sept. 29 leadership race for his governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), leaving his post after serving only one year.
LDP has the majority in Parliament, meaning the winner of its leadership race is likely to become Japan's next leader.
Suga says he wants to focus on pandemic measures and the campaign would have divided his energy.
Suga has faced criticism and nosediving support ratings over slow coronavirus measures and holding the Olympics despite the public's health concerns.
Japan is currently experiencing its most severe wave of cases since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — a wave that coincided with the start of the Olympics in late July.
Japan's average daily case rate has jumped from about 1,500 a day in early July to the current rate of more than 18,000 a day. Cases peaked in late August at nearly 25,000 a day.
Suga has served as Japan's Prime Minister for less than a year. He assumed power in September 2020 after former PM Shinzo Abe resigned to deal with chronic health issues.