Postponement of difficult issues can no longer be tolerated

“Deliberations” on and “postponements” of policies will no longer be tolerated. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida needs to produce tangible results by making use of the stable foundation he gained in the House of Councillors election.

In the upper house election, the Liberal Democratic Party won 63 seats, securing a majority of the 124 seats for six-year terms contested in the election. “We are facing one of the most difficult situations in the postwar period, one that requires us to run the government in a time of contingency,” Kishida said at a press conference.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows no sign of ending and its effects, such as soaring energy prices and food shortages, will likely be prolonged. China and North Korea have been repeating their provocative actions. Novel coronavirus infections have once again begun to surge.

Politics has a significant role to play in alleviating people’s anxiety.

The prime minister has advocated such measures as improving support for child-rearing and strengthening defense capabilities. He has, however, postponed discussions on such issues as how to secure financial resources. This may be because of the difficulty of coordinating within the government or because he has taken opposing opinions into consideration.

However, as the prime minister himself has described it, national politics is facing “difficult situations” that do not allow for even a moment of inaction. It is urgently necessary for the government to accurately grasps the international situation and changes in society in order to take effective measures.

It must also strategically proceed with difficult challenges, such as social security system reform and fiscal reconstruction, while carefully providing explanations to the public.

The elderly population will peak around 2040, meaning social security costs will balloon significantly. System reforms to contain the level of benefits for pensions, medical care and nursing care, while increasing the burden on the public, will likely be unavoidable.

Unified local elections will be held next spring. With the drop in the population, regional areas are seriously declining. The central and local governments should consider drastic measures to revitalize them.

The prime minister is reportedly planning to reshuffle his Cabinet and the LDP leadership next month. He needs to come up with lineups capable of achieving results on a variety of issues.

Through the upper house election, members from the ruling and opposition parties that are positive about constitutional revision maintained more than the two-thirds of seats required to initiate amendments by the Diet. The commissions on the Constitution of both the House of Representatives and the upper house may have reached the stage where they will be debating the specific wording for articles of amendment.

Kishida held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Japan to pay tribute to the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They confirmed that the Japan and the United States will further strengthen their alliance, taking into account what Abe had desired.

A summit of the Group of Seven advanced economies will be held in Hiroshima next May. It is true that Japan’s reputation for strength in terms of public security has diminished since Abe was shot to death.

Arrangements for protecting dignitaries and security must be reviewed in order to regain trust.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 12, 2022)