Prime Minister Needs to Foster Empathy to Regain Public Support

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, attends a Cabinet meeting Monday along with Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, left, and Sanae Takaichi, minister for economic security, at the Prime Minister’s Office.

In his policy speech Monday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida described the state of the world, including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and climate change, as a “turning point in history” and emphasized the need to create a new social, economic and international order for a new era.

The leaders of the five European and North American countries with whom Kishida met earlier this month also recognized this, he said, and his speech expressed a sense of crisis.

Emphasis was placed on the policy for children and child rearing as well as his signature policy of “new capitalism.” In the speech, Kishida expressed his eagerness to take “extraordinary measures to counter the low birth rate” from in the past, while also going on to say, “I want to take [my new capitalism policy] to the next level.”

The prime minister said he reworked the draft many times to incorporate his thoughts. This attitude shows his desire to regain the support of the public by bringing his policies to fruition.

On top of realizing his policies, what the prime minister needs in order to regain support is “trust and empathy,” which is his slogan.

Last year, the government revised three documents on national defense, including the National Security Strategy. Although this decision contributes to the national interest, it has not been well received by the public. This is probably because the public is deeply dissatisfied with the government’s decision, which was said to be “too hasty.”

In his speech, Kishida indicated that he would emphasize the importance of Diet deliberations. But he will not win the public’s sympathy by simply repeating the same answers.

As long as he says he will “debate issues fairly in front of the people,” Kishida must make an effort to appeal to the people, such as by also pointing out the negative aspects of his policies.