Kishida stresses raising wages, other measures to fight rising prices

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech during a session of the House of Representatives in Tokyo on Monday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his determination to do his utmost to combat rising prices and raise wages in a policy speech during an extraordinary session of the Diet convened Monday.

Aware of the increasing criticism of his administration, he also emphasized that he will humbly face the harsh voices of the people.

In his speech, the prime minister placed top priority on economic revitalization, focusing on three points: responding to high prices and the weak yen; increasing wage hikes and establishing a system to keep them high; investments and reforms for growth.

In response to high prices, the prime minister declared that “unprecedented and drastic measures will be taken” regarding electricity rates, which are expected to rise. Taking advantage of the weak yen, the government will aim to have spending by foreign visitors to Japan to top ¥5 trillion annually, which is more than before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

On wage hikes, the government will issue guidelines by June 2023 on specific measures, including a shift from a seniority-based salary system to a job-based salary system that emphasizes expertise and ability.

In order to encourage labor shifts to digital and other growth fields, the government also plans to invest ¥1 trillion over five years to support individuals in their efforts to relearn.

Kishida also said the government will concentrate investment in four areas, including startups.

In terms of measures against the novel coronavirus, the government will accelerate the rollout of vaccinations effective against COVID-19 caused by the prevalent omicron variant and strengthen decision-making authority.

In light of the increasingly severe security environment, the prime minister stressed the importance of strengthening the nation’s defenses.

“What is needed to protect the people? We will accelerate realistic considerations without ruling out any options,” he said, referring to increasing defense spending, revising three documents including the National Security Strategy and possessing counterstrike capabilities to attack an enemy’s military bases in self-defense.

Regarding Japan-China relations, he stated the government “will build constructive and stable relations through the efforts of both Japan and China,” indicating a willingness to continue dialogue with Beijing.

As for a proposal to amend the Public Offices Election Law to redistribute 10 seats in the House of Representatives, Kishida said it will be “promptly submitted to the Diet.”

He also referred to his own political stance. Regarding criticism of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral and the relationship between his Liberal Democratic Party members and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church, he said he will “sincerely, humbly and politely address the issues.”

“The stance of listening to harsh opinions is where it all starts for Fumio Kishida the politician,” he said.