Japan's ruling coalition voted down a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, deflecting criticism from opposition parties over the government's COVID-19 response and plans to push ahead with the Tokyo Olympics.
Four opposition parties submitted the motion after the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito rejected their demand to extend the current parliamentary session beyond the closing on Wednesday.
Suga had previously said the motion could be grounds for dissolving the more powerful lower chamber of the Diet before the current four-year terms of its members end on Oct. 21.
But the premier is expected to wait until after the Olympics and Paralympics, set to begin July 23, end in September to dissolve the house for a general election.
The opposition parties -- the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party -- had called for a three-month extension to continue the debate on ways to contain the coronavirus pandemic and whether Tokyo can safely host the Summer Games.
CDPJ leader Yukio Edano accused Suga of "lacking a sense of responsibility toward protecting the lives and livelihoods of the people," calling him unfit to lead during the "worst crisis since the end of the war."
"If this office is too much for you to bear, relinquish it as soon as possible," Edano said before the vote was held in a lower house plenary session in the afternoon.
Among other opposition parties, the Japan Innovation Party voted against the no-confidence motion, saying it does not support Suga's Cabinet but dismissing the entire process as a "farce."
The no-confidence motion was the first since June 2019 when one was filed against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet, which was also voted down. Suga was serving as chief Cabinet secretary at the time.
LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai said Tuesday he does not expect Suga, who leads the party, to dissolve the house during the current parliamentary session, a view shared by several senior administration officials.
"We need to stay on our guard and make sure the remaining bills are passed," Suga said in a meeting between the government and the ruling coalition.
For Suga, whose public support has fallen amid dissatisfaction with the government's COVID-19 response and who faces an LDP leadership race in September, waiting to hold the general election could be of benefit as a successful Tokyo Olympics would boost positive sentiment.
Japan's vaccination program, which has so far lagged behind other developed nations, would also be further along as the effort expands beyond health care workers and people aged 65 and older.
The ruling coalition currently holds 306 of 465 seats in the House of Representatives. A Kyodo News poll conducted last month showed support for the LDP at 41.9 percent, the CDPJ at 8.6 percent and Komeito at 4.5 percent, while 32.1 percent of respondents said they do not back any party.