He was foreign minister for a long time, now he leads Japan’s government: the parliament elected Fumio Kishida as the new prime minister. He’s announcing elections this month.
Japan’s new head of government Fumio Kishida wants to lead his country out of the corona crisis with mostly new faces. As expected, parliament elected the Conservatives on Monday with a majority of the coalition parties to succeed Yoshihide Suga. This had thrown in the towel after only one year due to poor poll results.
Kishida (64), who belongs to the conservative wing of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), filled all departments with the exception of the Foreign and Defense Ministers, but took into account the balance of power in the LDP. Critics see his cabinet, which consists of only three women, as a sign of continuity rather than new beginnings. The stock market responded with falling prices.
Kishida wants parliament to be re-elected soon
According to media reports, Kishida wants to have the powerful lower house of parliament re-elected on October 31, instead of November as expected. Observers see the early election date as a move, as new governments often enjoy better poll ratings at the beginning. In addition, Kishida and his LDP could try to benefit from the fact that the corona infections have fallen sharply thanks to the now high vaccination rate and the corona emergency was lifted a few days ago. Opposition politicians criticized Kishida. Although it is a new cabinet, the policy will essentially not change.
Observers do not expect a change of power in the general election, but the LDP could lose seats. How long Kishida can stay in office could depend on that. The politician, who comes from a politician dynasty, faces huge challenges. It has to prevent another wave of infections and at the same time help the corona-plagued third-largest economy in the world to grow again.
Ex-Prime Minister Abe continues to have great influence
Kishida wants a “new capitalism” that is supposed to reduce the widening income gap between rich and poor. Observers expect, however, that the conservative will ultimately not deviate much from the course set by his arch-conservative predecessor and mentor Shinzo Abe. Abe continues to have great influence, which commentators say was also reflected in Kishida’s occupation of key party positions. In addition, Kishida announced another gigantic boost to the economy worth the equivalent of hundreds of billions of euros. The aggressively relaxed monetary policy will also remain in place.
The successor to Finance Minister Taro Aso will be Shunichi Suzuki. He is Aso’s brother-in-law and belongs to its second largest power group within the LDP. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, who is Abe’s younger brother, kept Kishida in office. It thus ensures foreign and security policy stability.
Kishida was previously considered to be moderate
Hiroshima-born Kishida, who was Foreign Minister under Abe for many years, has so far been considered moderate. Most recently, however, he gave the impression of a security policy “hawk”, probably to secure the support of the Abe circle.
Kishida, who like Abe is close to the nationalist lobby organization Nippon Kaigi (in German: Japan Conference), wants to expand Japan’s defense capacities and further increase the military budget. Like his predecessors, he supports the close security alliance with the protective power USA. At the same time, he wants to work with other democratic partner states in Europe and Asia to create an antithesis to China’s growing striving for power in the region.
Vaccination Campaign and Birth Rate
Most cabinet posts went to members of influential LDP power groups who had supported Kishida in the election of party leader. 13 of the ministers are part of a cabinet for the first time. One of the three women on the team is Seiko Noda, one of Kishida’s three opponents in the election for party chairmanship. It is supposed to take care of gender equality in Japan’s male-dominated society and boost the birth rate. Because Japan is not aging any other industrialized nation so quickly.
Another woman in the cabinet is Noriko Horiuchi. She takes over the vaccination campaign and succeeds Taro Kono. He had made the vaccination campaign, which started late, a success and was considered the preferred candidate of the broad party base in the LDP election, especially since he is much more popular with the people than Kishida with his charisma. But Kono’s reform ideas went too far for the LDP ruling class.