Historic Stock Prices, Growing Wages: Kishida Stresses Economic Achievements

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is the president of Liberal Democratic Party, stressed the achievements of his government’s economic policies at a press conference Thursday, citing historically high stock prices and a strong trend toward wage increases.

However, Kishida has been unable to link such gains to greater popularity, as the public has grown increasingly dissatisfied over the recent political funds scandal involving LDP factions. His administration seems likely to continue to struggle.

“This is our chance, for the first time in nearly 30 years, to completely escape deflation,” he said at the press conference. “We must grab this opportunity and never go back. This is exactly why my government exists.”

Kishida held a press conference following the passage of a budget for the next fiscal year for the first time since taking office in October 2021. Some government officials voiced concern over holding the press conference when LDP members involved in the funds scandal have yet to be punished, but Kishida insisted.

Kishida devoted almost all his 15-minute opening statement to explaining his economic policies. He mentioned Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock average topping the 40,000 mark for the first time ever in March, and stressed that the government would take all possible policy measures to support wage hikes by companies.

He also promised to help deal with the rising price of goods by ensuring that pay hikes exceed inflation.

Approval for the Kishida Cabinet sits at a low 25%, according to a public opinion survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun in March. Wage hikes may start to be felt in April, and income tax cuts will take effect in June. Because of this, some officials within the government are hopeful. “I think that approval ratings might improve by the time the current Diet session closes,” said a close aide to Kishida.

However, Cabinet approval ratings have so far not budged despite rising stock prices and upward trending wages. Many believe this is due mainly to public distrust in politics caused by the funds scandal.

In April, three vacancies in the House of Representatives are set to be filled in by-elections. “LDP candidates will face harsh criticism during their election campaigns,” said Kishida. “We must show our determination to restore trust in politics and reform the LDP.”