PM Met with Broad Range of Private-sector Officials in First 3 Months

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Yoshihide Suga

A total of 1,448 people attended meetings with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga from the day he took office on Sept. 16 to Dec. 14, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun tally.

Hiroto Izumi, a special adviser to the prime minister, attended 58 meetings with Suga, the highest tally. In second place was Shigeru Kitamura, secretary general of the National Security Secretariat, who attended 42 meetings, followed by Director of Cabinet Intelligence Hiroaki Takizawa, who attended 33.

Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is also in charge of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, attended 29 meetings.

Kitamura had the highest tally in former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s final three months in office, attending 121 meetings, followed by Takaya Imai, a special adviser and executive secretary to Abe, who attended 106 meetings, figures that far exceed the number of meetings the current officials in those roles have attended with Suga.

“Compared to Abe, the prime minister is trying to hear a broad range of opinions from many people,” a government official said.

One of the most notable features of the prime minister is his willingness to meet with people from the private sector.

Abe met with 33 people from the private sector in his final three months in office, while Suga has met with as many as 188. He has met with the same individuals multiple times on many occasions.

Suntory Holdings President Takeshi Niinami, with whom Suga has been acquainted since his days as chief cabinet secretary, has attended four meetings with the prime minister since the start of his administration. Obstetrician-gynecologist Rikikazu Sugiyama has attended three meetings with the prime minister in connection with efforts to expand public insurance coverage for fertility treatment.

Suga’s frequent use of hotels is also notable. On weekday mornings, he has breakfast at hotels near the Diet, exchanging views with officials, including those from the private sector. It is not unusual for Suga to spend Saturdays and Sundays holding meetings at hotels.

In the first three months of his administration, there were only three days when he did not visit hotels.