Kishida must show ability to execute policy, communicate at home, abroad

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s second Cabinet has been launched. His administration is finally getting into full swing. It is important for him to steadily tackle the budget compilation for the next fiscal year and handle the challenges at home and abroad, demonstrating an ability to implement policies and convey his message.

The prime minister appointed Yoshimasa Hayashi as foreign minister to replace Toshimitsu Motegi, whom he had made secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and reappointed the 19 other members of his first Cabinet. At a press conference, Kishida said emphatically, “I will promote thoughtful, tolerant politics, and make all possible efforts to execute policies with an awareness of speed.”

First, preparing for a sixth wave of the novel coronavirus is the biggest challenge. It is essential to take all possible measures to put the medical system on a firm footing in light of the lessons learned from the fifth wave, when medical services became strained.

At the same time, the government must urgently implement measures to rebuild the economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic, and put it on track toward full-fledged growth.

Since the LDP presidential election campaign, Kishida has been talking about policies using catchphrases such as “a new form of capitalism.”

However, the specific content of these policies is not clear, nor is how they will be implemented. The government needs to quickly come up with a comprehensive picture of the policies, including how to secure financial resources, and reflect it in this fiscal year’s supplementary budget as well as next fiscal year’s budget.

The security environment surrounding Japan has become more severe, with China and North Korea having developed new missiles. Japan, in close cooperation with the United States, is expected to play a role in contributing to the maintenance of the international order.

The prime minister is likely to visit the United States before the year is over and have talks with U.S. President Joe Biden.

It is hoped that the two leaders will deepen their mutual trust and discuss closely how to use the Japan-U.S. alliance for regional stability, and how to deal with China — including in the economic sphere, such as the response to China’s application to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

Newly appointed foreign minister Hayashi has served as chairman of the Japan-China Parliamentary Friendship Association. Based on this experience, Hayashi will be tested on his ability to firmly urge Beijing to refrain from behavior that violates international rules, while aiming to maintain an amicable relationship with China.

Kishida created a new post of special adviser to the prime minister on international human rights issues and appointed Gen Nakatani to the post.

Hayashi and Nakatani should work together to clearly send messages to China on Japan’s position that it will not tolerate changes in the status quo in the East China Sea and human rights violations in areas such as Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and to urge Beijing to take specific measures.

The largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party, which formed a united front in the latest House of Representatives election campaign, voted for CDPJ leader Yukio Edano in the Diet’s vote for prime minister.

After the defeat in the 2009 lower house election, in the Diet’s vote for prime minister, the LDP voted for the chairperson of the LDP Joint Plenary Meeting of Party Members of Both Houses of the Diet, not for LDP President Taro Aso. This time, the casting of votes by the CDPJ and the JCP for Edano, who has expressed his intention to step down as party leader to take responsibility for the defeat in the latest lower house election, may show an excessive lack of discipline that is irresponsible.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Nov. 11, 2021.