Kishida set to tap Hayashi for Japan’s foreign minister post

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yoshimasa Hayashi

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed senior ruling party members Friday that he intends to appoint Yoshimasa Hayashi, 60, to the post of foreign minister.

Kishida has concurrently served as foreign minister since Thursday, when he appointed former Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to the post of Liberal Democratic Party secretary general.

The official appointment of Hayashi, a former education, culture, sports, science and technology minister, will be on Wednesday, when the second Kishida Cabinet is scheduled to be launched.

Hayashi completed graduate school at Harvard University. He was elected to the House of Councillors for the first time in 1995 and has been elected to the Diet five times. He has served in such posts as defense minister, agriculture minister and education minister. Hayashi holds the No. 2 position in the Kishida faction, which is led by the prime minister.

In August, Hayashi resigned as an upper house member in order to run in October’s House of Representatives election in Yamaguchi Constituency No. 3, and was elected to the lower house for the first time.

Hayashi will have his hands full, as China has escalated the provocative actions of its coast guard ships around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, and North Korea has repeatedly test-fired ballistic missiles and taken other military actions. There are also diplomatic challenges regarding Japan’s relationships with countries such as Russia and South Korea.

Concerning the United States, negotiations over Japan’s burdens for the costs of stationing U.S. forces in Japan — the so-called sympathy budget — in and after fiscal 2022 will enter a full-fledged phase soon.

By appointing Hayashi, who is Kishida’s close aide and has wide knowledge about policies, it seems that the prime minister aims to strengthen Japan’s diplomatic preparedness.