Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday that he has no plan to dissolve parliament, a week after his Liberal Democratic Party lost three seats in House of Representatives by-elections with a slush funds scandal undermining the LDP's popularity.

Kishida, who took office in October 2021, also declined to comment on whether he will run in the LDP presidential race around September, although it has been thought he is keen to secure a second term as the party's leader to build a long-lasting government.

The by-elections were held on April 28 with the ruling LDP under intense scrutiny following revelations that its factions had neglected to report portions of their income from fundraising parties and accumulated slush funds for years for their members.

"I will do my best to address issues that cannot be postponed, such as implementing political reforms," Kishida said at a press conference in San Paulo before concluding his six-day tour that took him to France, Brazil and Paraguay.

"I believe it is important to produce results on the challenges, and I am focused solely on that," Kishida added, while pledging to begin discussions with LDP lawmakers on how to revise the political funds control law immediately after he returns to Tokyo.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a press conference in San Paulo, Brazil, on May 4, 2024. (Kyodo)

Kishida's government and the ruling bloc are aiming to amend the legislation, which has been criticized for loopholes enabling politicians to maintain slush funds, during the ongoing parliamentary session through June.

The LDP, however, has been slammed by the opposition camp for its reluctance to review monthly payments of 1 million yen ($6,500) that lawmakers receive for research, study, and public relations activities. They are not required to report how this money is spent.

At the news conference in Brazil's biggest city, Kishida said he has already instructed LDP members to proceed with talks about how to improve the system with other political parties and reach a conclusion as soon as possible.

The slush funds scandal has driven down approval ratings for Kishida's Cabinet to their lowest levels since it was launched, plummeting well below 30 percent, a threshold widely recognized as the "danger level" for a government.

Since the by-elections, opposition parties have been accelerating demands for Kishida to dissolve the lower house in the coming months amid mounting expectations that the LDP could face a major setback if a snap election were to be held in the near future.

But the outcome of the by-elections has eroded Kishida's own political footing, likely prompting LDP lawmakers to try to replace him and preventing the next general election from taking place under his leadership, some analysts said.

Commenting on his overseas trip, Kishida said that Japan has successfully deepened ties with emerging and developing countries, collectively dubbed the Global South. Brazil is seen as a key player among such nations, along with India and Indonesia.

Kishida also visited France during his tour. He agreed with French President Emmanuel Macron to initiate negotiations on a reciprocal access agreement so that the two countries can facilitate closer defense cooperation.

Related coverage:

Japan PM Kishida vows to tackle global challenges with South America

Japan disappointed by Biden's "xenophobic" comments

Japan, Brazil agree to jointly protect Amazon rainforest