Japanese PM Kishida hopes to attend NPT review conference in U.S.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Monday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he “would like to attend” the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference slated to be held in New York in August, he told The Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday.

If realized, it would be his first visit to the United States since his inauguration in October last year.

It is rare for national leaders to participate in NPT review conferences, which are held every five years in principle.

If Kishida attends, it would be a first for a Japanese prime minister.

Kishida, whose constituency is in the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, hopes to emphasize the need for nuclear arms reduction at the conference, amid the heightening threat of nuclear conflict following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The prime minister aims to secure a “substantial increase” to the nation’s defense budget. Within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, there are calls to increase the defense budget to 2% or more of gross domestic product.

In Monday’s interview, Kishida stressed the need to decide the budget “based on three aspects: the ‘content’ of the requirements, the ‘budget’ to cover them, and the ‘financial resources’ to secure the budget.”

“It is not about the [2%] figure,” the prime minister said.

In line with his party’s proposals, Kishida mentioned examples such as the possession of “counterattack capability” to destroy missile launch sites and other facilities for self-defense purposes, and securing sustainable ammunition stocks.

Regarding the hypersonic missiles being developed by countries including the United States, China and Russia, Kishida said, “We will discuss whether they are necessary to protect the nation.”

To counter price hikes, Kishida said he would use the ¥5.5 trillion reserve fund to respond swiftly to the situation. “We will have solid measures in place specifically for energy and food,” he said.

Regarding the fiscal 2022 supplementary budget, Kishida said: “It will take at least several months from compilation to Diet deliberation. We will closely monitor the situation through autumn and make a decision.”

On his party’s prospects in the House of Councillors election, for which campaigning officially begins Wednesday, he said, “Considering the situation in which the public is demanding strong measures because of the surge in prices, we cannot be complacent at all.”

Regarding potential reshuffles after the upper house election, Kishida said, “It’s important to strike a balance between freshness and stability.”