Kishida Cabinet starts work on signature policies

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida enters the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Monday.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, coming off its big election win, is hitting the ground running with a series of task force meetings this week as it begins the business of putting his signature policies into practice.

Bolstered by the solid majority secured by the ruling coalition in last month’s House of Representatives election, in which it vastly exceeded the 261 seats regarded as the standard for stable management of Diet affairs, the Cabinet now intends to quickly implement policies touted by Kishida with the aim of having tangible results to show for its efforts.

“Having won a public mandate [in the lower house election], we will strive to implement policies with a feeling of urgency,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said at a press conference on Friday. “We want to advance debate in a unified manner.”

On Monday, the Council of New Form of Capitalism Realization, chaired by the prime minister, held its second meeting, while another group tasked with “building a new social security system for all generations” was scheduled to meet for the first time Tuesday.

After Kishida forms his second cabinet on Wednesday, a task force to realize a “Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation” will hold its first meeting on Thursday.

Regarding Kishida’s key policy of realizing a new form of capitalism, the growth strategy council chaired by the chief cabinet secretary has been replaced by the new council chaired by Kishida himself.

The government launched this council on Oct. 26 while official campaigning for the lower house election was underway.

At its second meeting on Monday, the council presented an urgent proposal calling for expanding tax incentives for companies willing to raise wages as a concrete measure for realizing a virtuous cycle of growth and wealth distribution.

The council to devise “social security for all generations,” which will serve as the control tower for social security reform, replaced a similar panel set up by the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2019.

The council is slated to hold its first meeting Tuesday jointly with a related committee tasked with evaluating and examining public prices.

The panels are expected to discuss social security reform and measures to increase the incomes of workers in fields such as nursing care and childcare.

The Digital Garden City vision was drawn from the garden city concept proposed by former Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira, who headed the Kochikai faction to which Kishida belongs. Kenji Wakamiya, the minister for the World Expo 2025 who is also in charge of this council, said, “We intend to narrow the gap between regional and urban areas by promoting the implementation of digital transformation starting with regional areas.”

In mid-November, the government plans to hold the first meeting of a temporary committee to study the digitization of administrative procedures, which is intended to advance digital, regulatory and administrative reforms in an integrated manner. However, the Council for the Promotion of Regulatory Reform will remain as is, leaving some government officials and bureaucrats perplexed.

“We don’t know how the roles [of the councils] will be divided,” said a staff member at the government office dealing with economic matters.

Successive prime ministers upon taking office have established new government councils in order to put their own hue on their administration.

“If the councils are not sorted out, particularly by abolishing existing ones, criticism could arise that the councils have just changed their facades,” a former cabinet member said.