Kishida visits Toyota plant ahead of national election

Pool photo / Jiji Press
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, visits Toyota Motor Corp.’s plant in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, with Toyota President Akio Toyoda, left, on Friday.

TOYOTA, Aichi (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday paid a visit to a Toyota Motor Corp. plant in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, ahead of a national election next month.

Kishida aimed to tout his efforts to raise wages in the unprecedented visit to the automaker by a prime minister from the Liberal Democratic Party, sources familiar with his thinking said.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan fears that the move was part of the ruling LDP’s efforts to divide opposition forces.

“I hope you will continue to support us because the livelihoods of 5.5 million people in the auto industry are on the line,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda told Kishida at their meeting at the Motomachi plant.

Kishida urged Toyoda to lead efforts to invest in people. “The public and private sectors must cooperate and achieve bold investments,” he said. They also discussed topics including decarbonization.

The prime minister’s visit came after a lawmaker from a Toyota labor union asked him to hold talks with automobile mechanics at a parliamentary meeting last December, according to a government source. The lawmaker is a member of the opposition Democratic Party for the People.

While it is rare for a prime minister to make a visit based on a request by an opposition lawmaker, the LDP has been seeking to divide the opposition by forming close ties with the DPFP and the umbrella organization for the country’s labor unions, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo.

Four seats are up for grabs in the Aichi prefectural constituency in the July 10 election for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet. Candidates from nine parties including the LDP, its coalition partner, Komeito, the CDP and the DPFP are vying for seats.