Tokyo: Japan’s parliament on Monday elected Fumio Kishida as the new prime minister, who will act quickly to deal with the pandemic and security challenges ahead of an impending national election.
Kishida replaced Yoshihide Suga, who resigned from his cabinet earlier in the day. Kishida and his cabinet will be sworn in at a palace ceremony later on Monday.
Suga left after only a year in office after seeing his support for his government’s handling of the pandemic and insistence on holding the Olympics over the spread of the virus.
Kishida, 64, a former foreign minister, was known to be a moderate liberal, but has apparently become fanatical to win over influential conservatives in the party.
He is firmly established in the conservative establishment and his victory in the party election was a substitute for continuity and stability over change.
Japanese media reported that two of the 20 cabinet positions would be replaced under Suga, 13 of them being appointed to ministerial positions for the first time. Most of the positions went to powerful factions who voted for Kishida in the party elections. Only three of the two women have reportedly been inducted into Suga’s government.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi are to be retained, ensuring the continuation of Japan’s diplomacy and security policies, as the country seeks to work closely with Washington under a bilateral security agreement due to the rise of China and rising tensions in the region. Including around Taiwan.
Kishida supports strong Japan-US security ties and partnerships with other like-minded democracies in Asia, Europe and the UK to counter China and nuclear-armed North Korea.
Kishida is to create a new cabinet position aimed at dealing with the economic dimensions of Japan’s national security, appointing Takayuki Kobayashi, 46, who is relatively new to parliament.
Japan faces increasing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, which last month tested ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in Japan. Kishida also faced deteriorating relations with fellow US ally South Korea over history issues, even after a 2015 agreement with Seoul to resolve a row over the issue of women being sexually abused by Japan’s military during World War II. have to face.
An urgent task at home would be to turn around the declining popularity of his party, hurt by Suga’s perceived high on the pandemic and other issues. Kishida is expected to deliver a policy speech later this week before the lower house of parliament is dissolved ahead of a general election in mid-November.
It must also ensure that Japan’s health care system, vaccination campaigns and other virus measures are prepared for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in the winter, while gradually normalizing social and economic activities.
Kishida said last week that his top priority would be the economy. Kishida’s ‘new capitalism’ is largely a continuation of Abe’s economic policies. Their aim is to increase the income of more people and create a cycle of growth and distribution.
A third-generation politician, Kishida was first elected to parliament in 1993 representing Hiroshima and is an advocate for nuclear disarmament.
He escorted former President Barack Obama during his 2016 visit to a city that, along with Nagasaki, was destroyed in US atomic bombings in the final days of World War II.