New Japanese PM sets sights on reviving economy

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Fumio Kishida promised to increase middle-class incomes and reduce wealth disparity under his “new form of capitalism,” which is viewed as a break from the “neoliberal policies”….reports Asian Lite News

Fumio Kishida, the leader of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who was elected on Monday as the country’s new Prime Minister to succeed Yoshihide Suga, is seeking to tackle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic while also reviving the economy with a package worth “tens of trillions of yen” to help people and businesses suffering from the health crisis.

Earlier in the day, the Diet or Parliament convened an extraordinary session to choose the new Prime Minister, reports Xinhua news agency.

As the ruling coalition led by the LDP controls both chambers, the 64-year-old former Foreign Minister received 311 of 458 votes in the House of Representatives and 141 of 241 votes in the House of Councillors.

After naming his new Cabinet, Kishida will be formally inaugurated in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace and hold a press conference in the evening.

Visitors are seen at the sightseeing spot Asakusa, in Tokyo, Japan, June 21, 2020. Japan on Friday completely lifted its request for people not to travel across prefectural lines, with the move met by a return of passengers to airports and train stations. (Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi/IANS)

Kishida’s first major test as Prime Minister will be the general election. He is planning to hold the election on October 31, while campaigning for members of the House of Representatives is set to begin on October 19.

He has promised to increase middle-class incomes and reduce wealth disparity under his “new form of capitalism,” which is viewed as a break from the “neoliberal policies” that the Japanese government has pursued over the past two decades.

On Monday morning, Suga’s Cabinet resigned en masse on Monday morning, little more than a year after its formation, amid criticism over its lack of ability to curb Covid-19.

As Japan’s Covid-19 infections have declined recently, and nearly 60 per cent of the country’s population have been fully vaccinated, the new Prime Minister will need to first handle the tasks of gradually lifting the restrictions on social and business activities and opening the border to foreign travellers.

In his prospective Cabinet, Kishida will add a new ministerial post for economic security with a responsibility to craft a national strategy designed to end the drain of intellectual property from Japan.

Takayuki Kobayashi, one of 13 ministerial first-timers, is set to be appointed to take the new post.

Three women will likely be appointed in the new Cabinet, including vaccination minister Noriko Horiuchi, administrative reform minister Karen Makishima, and Seiko Noda, the minister in charge of establishing a new agency for children’s policy.

In addition, former education minister Hirokazu Matsuno is set to become chief Cabinet secretary, and former environment minister Shunichi Suzuki is likely to replace his brother-in-law Taro Aso as finance minister of the country.

Kishida was elected in 1993 to the lower house from a constituency in Hiroshima prefecture and is a ninth-term member of the House of Representatives.

Under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he served as Foreign Minister for four years and eight months before he was installed as chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council for three years.

The third-generation politician was considered as a potential successor to Abe but lost to Suga in the LDP presidential race in 2020.

Kishida won the presidential election of the ruling LDP over his contender vaccination minister Taro Kono on September 29, securing 257 votes over the latter’s 170 votes in a runoff.

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