Kishida Must Reassess Footing to Build Political Stability

The LDP has held its annual convention. “We will respond to the mandate given by the public by providing answers one by one in an honest manner,” the prime minister said in his speech.

Political stability is imperative for the implementation of important policies. Kishida once again needs to assess his footing and address the problems in running his administration.

The LDP’s campaign policy adopted at the convention states that “overcoming high prices” is a pillar of its key policies and advocates the need for “wage increases that exceed inflation.”

Among developed countries, wages in Japan are at a low level. It is reasonable to tackle the issue of raising incomes, but the question is how to achieve this goal. The LDP’s ability to devise policies will be tested.

The campaign policy also stresses that the LDP “will enhance cooperation” in regard to the relationship with the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo). This may be intended to expand the party’s support base by showing its stance that it is being considerate of workers.

It is commendable that the Kishida Cabinet has made decisions on reinforcing defense capabilities and the proactive use of nuclear power plants among other matters.

Despite certain results being achieved, it is regrettable that there is an impression that politics is in disarray.

During last year’s extraordinary Diet session, the lack of coordination between the Prime Minister’s Office and the party was conspicuous. Recently, there has also been some discord within the LDP over the financial resources for an increase in defense spending and measures for the declining birthrate.

It is desirable that the Prime Minister’s Office and the LDP confirm how to steer the Diet and the policy-making process in order to build a relationship with an open atmosphere. Careful explanations are essential when asking the public to bear the burden of securing financial resources for spending such as on defense.

It can hardly be said that the Cabinet’s approval rating is high. This is likely because of a number of scandals and gaffes by Cabinet members and an aide to the prime minister. Kishida must eliminate any arrogant attitude or indiscretion within his administration.

In April, in addition to the unified local elections, House of Representatives by-elections are scheduled to be held in four constituencies, including Chiba and Yamaguchi prefectures. The results of the by-elections will certainly affect the prime minister’s leadership and the running of his administration.

The LDP executives’ ability to coordinate for the various elections appears to be fraying.

The LDP is reportedly unable to agree on a single candidate for some mayoral and gubernatorial polls in the unified local elections, likely resulting in conservative votes being split among candidates.

Following the rezoning of single-seat constituencies for the lower house, with one seat subtracted from each of 10 prefectures and these 10 seats added across five prefectures, the LDP and ruling coalition partner Komeito are at odds over coordination on which party’s candidates should be fielded in prefectures where the number of constituencies will increase, such as Tokyo and Saitama.

The two parties should deepen communication so as not to disrupt the unity of the coalition.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 27, 2023)