Election over, Kishida focuses on economic recovery

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is also Liberal Democratic Party president, places a tag above the name of a successful LDP candidate on Sunday night at LDP headquarters in Tokyo.

With the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito retaining its majority in the lower house after Sunday’s general election, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will work to realize his policies with full force. He will first formulate new economic measures as early as possible in order to rebuild the economy battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic, reflecting them in a supplementary budget for fiscal 2021, which he hopes to pass by the end of this year.

“With the results of this election, we will swiftly put together economic measures,” Kishida said Sunday night during an NHK program. “We need to ensure amount [of budget] that can incorporate the various contents [of policies] we emphasized during the election,”

The prime minister has often said, “We will prioritize the delivery of economic measures on a scale of tens of trillions of yen.” He apparently has in mind a plan to finalize the economic measures in mid-November and obtain Cabinet approval for a supplementary budget bill later this month.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida answers questions from reporters at Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo past midnight Monday.

In preparation for next summer’s upper house election, it will be essential for Kishida to “steadily produce results and accumulate achievements,” a senior LDP official said. Kishida’s leadership skills are likely to soon be tested during the coordination between the ruling parties to formulate economic measures.

The major pillars of the economic measures will be to provide benefits for businesses and households that have been dealt a blow by the pandemic.

For businesses, the government is considering reintroducing benefits to sustain operations and pay rent. For individuals, Kishida expressed a willingness to promptly provide benefits to non-regular workers and households raising children.

Junior coalition partner Komeito, on the other hand, has been calling for distributing ¥100,000 per person 18 and under. Future discussions between the LDP and Komeito will focus on the amount and scopes of the benefits.

The economic measures are expected to include the idea of establishing a COVID-19 flow of “prevention, testing, treatment” by promoting the development and use of therapeutic drugs and securing the medical care system, in addition to pushing ahead with vaccination against COVID-19.

Kishida has been calling for a “new capitalism” and aims to realize both economic growth and wealth redistribution. He has already established a council for the realization of a new capitalism, consisting of a panel of experts. He hopes to expedite discussions to realize tax-related aid for companies that are proactively supporting households with children and increasing wages, as well as raising the pay of workers in the nursing, elderly care and childcare sections.

Infection control measures

The government and ruling coalition are preparing for a possible “sixth wave” of novel coronavirus infection while working on rebuilding the economy.

“We will prepare for the worse and secure enough hospital beds in public hospitals across the country,” Kishida said Sunday night on a radio program.

The government will compile overall measures within this month to prepare for the spread of a virus variant that might be twice as infectious as the variant that spread during the “fifth wave” this summer. Increasing the capacity to admit inpatients by 20% is being considered among other measures.

At the same time, the government plans to promote the use of electronic vaccination certificates and free virus tests in order to ease movement restrictions and resume social and economic activities in earnest.

The easing of entry restrictions to Japan will also be an issue, although it will be difficult to strike a balance with infection resurgence control.Speech