Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, poses with his cabinet in Tokyo on Monday night. Photo: David Mareuil/Pool via AP
politics

Kishida says coronavirus, economy, security top his agenda

43 Comments
By Mari Yamaguchi

Newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday he will dissolve the lower house next week in preparation for Oct 31 elections as he seeks a fresh mandate to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the sagging economy and security threats from China and North Korea.

Kishida was formally elected by the Diet earlier Monday to replace Yoshihide Suga, who resigned after only one year in office. Suga's support had plunged over his handling of the pandemic and insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics as the virus spread.

"Our fight against the coronavirus is continuing," Kishida told his first news conference Monday night after taking office. "COVID-19 measures is the urgent and top priority, and I will handle the problem taking into consideration the worst-case scenario." He said he will review the past virus handling and seek to set up a crisis management unit.

He also pledged to push through with a large-scale recovery package to support those hit by the pandemic.

"In order to take large-scale COVID-19 measures, I need to get the people's mandate," Kishida said, adding that he will pass up attending G-20 and COP-26 climate meetings in-person.

A former foreign minister, Kishida, 64, used to be known as a moderate but turned hawkish on security and more conservative on gender equality and other issues, apparently to win over influential conservatives in his Liberal Democratic Party. His victory in last week's vote to replace Suga as the party's leader was seen as a choice for continuity and stability over change.

Kishida replaced all but two of Suga's 20 cabinet members, and 13 will hold posts for the first time, according to the lineup announced by new Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. Most of the posts went to powerful factions that voted for Kishida in the party election. Only three women are included, up from two in Suga's government.

Veteran female lawmaker Seiko Noda, one of four candidates who vied for the party leadership, became the minister in charge of the nation's declining birthrate and local revitalization. Another woman, Noriko Horiuchi, became vaccinations minister, replacing Taro Kono, the runner-up in the party leadership race.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, who is former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's younger brother, were retained, ensuring continuity of Japan's diplomacy and security policies as the country seeks to closely work with Washington under the bilateral security pact in the face of China's rise and growing tensions in the region, including around Taiwan.

Kishida supports stronger Japan-U.S. security ties and partnerships with other like-minded democracies in Asia, Europe and Britain, in part to counter China and nuclear-armed North Korea. He pledged to beef up Japan's missile and naval defense capability.

Kishida acknowledged the importance to continue dialogue with China, an important neighbor and trade partner, but said that "we must speak up" against China's attempt to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas.

Kishida created a new Cabinet post aimed at tackling the economic dimensions of Japan's national security, appointing 46-year-old Takayuki Kobayashi, who is relatively new to parliament.

Finance Minister Taro Aso was shifted to a top party post and replaced by his 68-year-old relative, Shunichi Suzuki.

Kishida said he is open to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions to resolve the issue of Japanese citizens abducted to the North decades ago. He said he will cooperate with President Joe Biden in resolving North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Kishida also faces worsening ties with South Korea over history issues even after he struck a 2015 agreement with Seoul to resolve a row over the issue of women who were sexually abused by Japan's military during World War II.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday sent a letter to Kishida, congratulating him and offering to work together to improve ties.

An urgent task at home will be turning around his party's declining popularity, hurt by Suga's perceived high-handedness on the pandemic and other issues.

He'll also have to ensure Japan's health care systems, vaccination campaign and other virus measures are ready for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in winter, while gradually normalizing social and economic activity.

Voters welcomed new, and slightly younger, faces in the government.

A 28-year-old designer Karen Einaka said she hoped the new government takes into consideration younger people's opinions and allows younger politicians to play important roles.

At least, "Kishida looks more energetic than Suga," said business owner Makoto Okubo.

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43 Comments
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I can't want for this agenda to be put into revolutionary change action!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I can't want for this agenda to be put into revolutionary change action!

It's likely to be similar his predecessor

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-shadow-shogun-abe-assured-clout-over-next-pm-kishida-2021-09-30/

3 ( +5 / -2 )

That's very thoughtful of him

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I just hope that this new Japanese government opens up to us Sansei descendants of Brazil. We've been almost a year without any news.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Surprisingly, no collage-dropout Nepotism-kun in the new cabinet. Wonder what his next steps are.

Also, no fresh-faced Kono. Didn't he get some kind of PR role? I guess not a minister.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The three main agenda points goes without saying, are we supposed to be impressed? I read in the paper that the avg age of Kishida's cabinet is older than Suga's by one year, so don't get your hopes up in thinking that Kishida is thinking about any type of reform. Finally, this club is still run by the AA faction, aka as Abe & Aso. Enjoy.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

He also pledged to push through with a large-scale recovery package to support those hit by the pandemic.

If past performance is any indicator of future actions with the LDP, this refers not to the many struggling workers with precarious jobs but hotel and restaurant chain owners.

Another round of GoTo subsidies and promotional contracts for Dentsu to support those "hard hit" but still have the money for discretionary travel and spending?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Kishida is just another slippery politician. Today middle class is not the same middle class as pre 2000,s. The middle class of yesterday is the higher lower class of today which is a much larger % of the population then today’s middle class. Today middle is the smallest-% of the Japanese society. The only way to kick start Japan economy to rise the basic wage to 1500 yen a hour.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

It's like the walking dead in suits.

Booooo to them all.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Japan remains same as before whoever became a LDP prime minister and other ministers. New prime minister will follow same/similar policies that ex-prime ministers made/did. If opposition party became ruling party, it would be a big difference.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The only way to kick start Japan economy to rise the basic wage to 1500 yen a hour.

@John-San That’s hopefully only an ironic joke from you. It’s maybe sufficient not to die the same day and keep the very basic organ functions or life essentials for some months, but surely still not good for consumption, marriage, raising children, house building and all such or even what you called an economy kick start. lol But I would agree on your words about so-called middle class, which is of course nowadays almost not existing and more wish or a phantasy description.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

26 days left until the end of the shortest premiership in Japanese history.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow the very definition of vitality! I weep for the future.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Look like a picture of the last early century.

Even their clothes are outdated,these dinosaurs still lives with an early Showa mentality.

It’s like having a time machine and revert to almost a hundred years.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The grandpa on the front right looks like he just wondered into the photo by accident...where am I?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

i remember in 80ties soviet politbiro.

same feeling now.

same show just different faces.

i dont smell any change in air at all.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You all are missing the point of what he said. “Large scale measurements” that is referring to the idiotic policy of vaccine passports to coerce people for a shot that enables the spread of the virus.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

If opposition party became ruling party, it would be a big difference.

Have you read the Rikken DPJ's manifesto? Not only are those policies unfeasible, but only the top 10% of the wealthy and corporations will be taxed two or three times as much, and the Japanese economy will plummet to the bottom. This is the kind of stupid policy that experts laugh at. That's why the opposition party's approval rating is only in single digits.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

I think it is ridiculous to have a vaccine passport when the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases drastically after six months, but this is something that Western countries are more actively considering than Japan.

Nevertheless, I think it is necessary to continue to increase the number of people vaccinated with regard to vaccines, so I would like to keep an eye on the situation. However, this is not a problem that can be solved by increasing the number of tests, so rather than investing in this, I think it would be better to focus on the development of therapeutic drugs, as Takaichi argued.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

They all look so British in the Photo.

Lets see what kishida and his group can accomplish in the next few weeks.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Another Penguin Parade.

Just this time the OB brigade has added a few Wrens for pictorial composition.

What a joke.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

22 males and 3 women. Badly needs reforming. Iceland was in the news recently for the number of women in the parliament. Some 30 of the 63 seats (47.6%) were won by women.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Heard the same song and dance before...you ain't kidding anyone Mr. Kishida.

Once you rise to power, we become obsolete.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A piece of big news that cannot be let to go unchallenged.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has criticized severely the way the LDP leader vote was conducted. Big money flowed underneath behind the door to elect Secretary General, according to Chunichi Sports: 10/05/2021).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

funny how a lot of them had to dye their hair to make themselves look younger...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well.

Let's see the actions there, buddy.

We've heard enough talk and "promises" for decades already.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

she hoped the new government takes into consideration younger people's opinions and allows younger politicians to play important roles.

At least, "Kishida looks more energetic than Suga," said business owner Makoto Okubo.

Pssst…. you can actually vote for someone else if you voters can be bothered…

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

kenshin_uToday  10:41 am JST

Have you read the Rikken DPJ's manifesto? Not only are those policies unfeasible, but only the top 10% of the wealthy and corporations will be taxed two or three times as much, and the Japanese economy will plummet to the bottom. This is the kind of stupid policy that experts laugh at.

Why? I thought those corporations and rich folks were sitting on huge hoards of cash they were doing nothing with.

That's why the opposition party's approval rating is only in single digits.

I thought LDP apologists liked to make out it's because all they do is criticise the government. Do you really think the average voter cares if people richer than him or her pays more tax?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

At least, "Kishida looks more energetic than Suga," said business owner Makoto Okubo.

I agree with this statement. Suga just looked like the stress and pressure of COVID and the job had taken its toll on him. Kishida looks very motivated and like he will hit the ground running in new position.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Surprisingly, no collage-dropout Nepotism-kun in the new cabinet.

I'm glad you wrote college-dropout, otherwise I wouldn't know who you were referring to. Just saying nepotism could refer to practically all the LDP politicians.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They are almost all small potatoes. Without help of Japanese bureaucrats, they cannot do anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just another puppet ran by the dinosaur puppet masters, nothing will change

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I thought LDP apologists liked to make out it's because all they do is criticise the government. Do you really think the average voter cares if people richer than him or her pays more tax?

As corporations and the wealthy flee overseas, the economy worsens, and who will have to pay for the loss of tax revenue? Even the average person can imagine that. It's up to the general public to bear the burden.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I was looking for "transparency" and "democracy" to replace "money" and "weapons".

But, from LDP, i'm not disappointed

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Looking at the picture of newly installed male ministers in anachronistic attire, I cannot help but suspect how many of them are wearing their own tailcoats. Haven't most of them had rented the coats at a rental shop in the Ginza or Kasumigazeki?

Hope their execution of policy won't be likewise anachronistic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

kenshin_uToday  03:13 pm JST

I thought LDP apologists liked to make out it's because all they do is criticise the government. Do you really think the average voter cares if people richer than him or her pays more tax?

As corporations and the wealthy flee overseas, the economy worsens, and who will have to pay for the loss of tax revenue?

As a CDPJ victory is already pretty much a hypothetical scenario, in that case I would like to see other countries taxing corporations and wealthy more so that they had nowhere to flee to.

Even the average person can imagine that.

I doubt the average person is even aware that the CDPJ has a manifesto.

It's up to the general public to bear the burden.

Right now, you mean? Because the government is scared of upsetting rich and powerful people? It's lucky for the LDP that they can't really lose, with a message like that they'd be in trouble.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I doubt the average person is even aware that the CDPJ has a manifesto.

Their claims based on their manifesto are broadcasted daily by the mass media. Also, we have already experienced their policies when they were the ruling party.

Right now, you mean? Because the government is scared of upsetting rich and powerful people? It's lucky for the LDP that they can't really lose, with a message like that they'd be in trouble.Right now, you mean? Because the government is scared of upsetting rich and powerful people? It's lucky for the LDP that they can't really lose, with a message like that they'd be in trouble.

It's always the public that ultimately bears the brunt of failed economic policies, right? In fact, isn't it? I think this is true not only in Japan, but worldwide.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As a CDPJ victory is already pretty much a hypothetical scenario, in that case I would like to see other countries taxing corporations and wealthy more so that they had nowhere to flee to.

I don't know what kind of situation you mean by making it impossible for companies to escape. Companies and wealthy individuals will flee countries where their business and investment activities are crippled. I have seen news about Chinese companies trying to go public in the U.S. and being sanctioned by Chinese companies just to keep them from going abroad....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've seen news that some Chinese companies have been sanctioned by the Chinese government...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

kenshin_uToday  08:54 pm JST

Their claims based on their manifesto are broadcasted daily by the mass media.

I doubt if anyone's paying much attention. They're probably not even going to have a candidate in my area.

Also, we have already experienced their policies when they were the ruling party.

That was actually a different party but I'm not surprised you brought it up.

It's always the public that ultimately bears the brunt of failed economic policies, right? In fact, isn't it? I think this is true not only in Japan, but worldwide.

It's certainly true in Japan. However, there's only really one party that can take any responsibility for that and due to the weakness of the opposition they never have to.

kenshin_uToday  09:04 pm JST

I don't know what kind of situation you mean by making it impossible for companies to escape.

I never said "impossible." If, speaking purely hypothetically, most other developed countries imposed high taxes on corporations and the wealthy, there would be no benefit to relocating. However that's as likely to happen as the CDPJ winning an election heavily skewed in the LDP's favour.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes. More taxes to come

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kenshin_uOct. 5  09:05 pm JST

I've seen news that some Chinese companies have been sanctioned by the Chinese government...

Any excuse for an anti-Chinese or anti-Korean diatribe, right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In conjunction with my comment of Oct. 5  12:40 pm JST:

It seems vote buying has been a very common practice in the election of LDP's Secretary General. This irregularity is not subject to an investigation under Political Funds Control Act because it’s the LDP's internal affairs per se.  It’s unknown which faction in the party used dirty money most for vote buying. 

Remember, though, that LDP Secretary General is eventually to become Prime Minister of Japan. It's no exaggeration, then, that successive Japanese Prime Ministers have been voted in by a small group of LDP members through vote buying and bribery.

Apparently, Japan is not a democracy but a plutocracy. The election system must be renovated. Prime Minister should be elected by general voting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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