Kishida must present specific road map for economic revitalization

It is not enough to only express a determination to work on measures to combat soaring prices and correct economic disparity. A specific road map for economic revitalization must be presented and tangible results must be produced.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has delivered policy speeches in plenary sessions of both chambers of the Diet. “Revitalization of Japan’s economy is the most important issue to be tackled,” Kishida said, citing as priorities the response to high prices and the weak yen, and raising pay.

Due to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy prices have been soaring. Kishida stressed that he would “take unprecedented, drastic measures” to reduce the burden of soaring electricity bills on companies and households.

Positioning decarbonization and digitization at the core of economic growth, Kishida also stated he would “accelerate consideration of a road map” for promoting decarbonization.

Japan has been experiencing a long period of low growth. It is important for the government to shore up the foundation of the economy over the medium to long term, while subsidizing electricity bills for the time being to support households and others.

According to a private credit survey firm, the prices of more than 6,000 food and beverage products have increased since the start of this month. The annual household burden is estimated to increase by nearly ¥70,000.

The government intends to compile a comprehensive package of economic measures by mid-October. It is hoped that the government will avoid falling prey to pork-barrel budget planning and thoroughly examine necessary measures, such as support for struggling small and midsize companies and people in need.

The Kishida administration’s “new form of capitalism” policy has been a source of disappointment because its content has yet to be clarified. What is needed are policies that are effective and have substance, not slogans that aim only to please the public.

Kishida has secured consecutive victories in the House of Representatives election last year and the House of Councillors election this summer. The environment should be ripe for tackling difficult issues. The stage is set for his administration to deliver steady results.

As a result of the large-scale support measures to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, the fiscal situation has become more serious. The economic package to be compiled soon is expected to be financed by government bonds, and the fiscal situation will continue to deteriorate.

Medical expenses and other such costs have continued to increase due to the low birth rate and aging population.

The prime minister must tackle fiscal consolidation and reform of the social security system even though it will inevitably be painful for the public.

Regarding Japan’s foreign and security policies, Kishida said in his address, “The same thing in Ukraine could happen in East Asia in the future,” stressing the importance of strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities. To increase the defense budget, Kishida needs not only to obtain public understanding through thorough explanations, but also to present how to secure financial resources for that purpose.

Oct. 4 marks one year since Kishida took office as prime minister. The approval ratings of his Cabinet have fallen mainly due to issues linked to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church. Efforts must be made to restore trust in politics.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 4, 2022)